Those noises were very spooky. It’s not as if you don’t hear noise underwater. I’ve heard boat engines, outboards, jetskis, pedaloes, people noises and the sound of rain on the surface of the ocean, but never this weird, unearthly kind of calling.
Sometimes a lower pitch moan seemed to be “answered” by a higher pitch whine, mixed with other more faint noises which were difficult to discern.
I stuck my head out of the water at first thinking perhaps there were animals up above the rocks but above the water the only sound was that of the surf against the rocks at the mouth of the little bay.
The cuttlefish display team was still hanging around so I made a note of their position and mine, hoped I’d be able to get the camera from Capt Sensible and swam back to meet him and the others before realising it was time to get back to the boat.
He hadn’t heard any weird noises, nothing like I described but he had encountered the cuttlefish and had taken stills and bits of movie of them, which was pure happy chance.
Sadly, only one other snorkeller had seen the cuttlefish and she’d had no idea what they were so did a rapid U turn to flee. One person thought they’d seen a stingray and another had retrieved a magnificent conch shell, which he replaced in the deep. There was so much chat and comparing notes that I forgot to ask if anyone else had heard the spooky soundtrack. I began to think that maybe it was my ears playing tricks, misinterpreting the metallic random whining of a distant boat anchor cable?
The day after we returned to Blighty, I loaded all the snaps and the bits of video on to the computer. Playing back one of the videos from that day at the bay, I heard the unearthly calls again – on the soundtrack of a snippet of fish film! They can be heard on at least two of the short videos.
After listening to various cetacean calls, I reckon with some confidence that the sounds are that of one or more Humpback Whales. They turn up in the Caribbean but are more common around the Dominican Republic – at least 150 miles from St Lucia. Their calls can be heard at up to 100 miles underwater and they’re known to travel up to 16,000 miles a year so who knows?
So I didn’t spot a turtle (one came up by the dive boat when we were all away snorkelling) and I didn’t rein in a seahorse but I heard something far more unexpected and special – the song of a whale.