Our next stop was another beach town farther south on the Mozambique coastline called Inhambane. This was another fishing village (are there any other types on the coast?) that was pretty well known for its whale watching opportunities. Whale watching is one of those activities that are the bread and butter of many tour companies. They love it because all they have to do is advertise the stuff that can be seen every once in a while, and if people don’t see the big attraction, you just have to say “Well, that’s nature!”. Generally there are a few dolphins or other some such ordinary creature that still thrills the tourists enough that none of them complain too much about missing the highlighted attraction.
This was kinda the way our tour went…we were told that there were whale sharks in the area, which if you are a diver will recognize as one of those holy grail type animals that everyone would be happy to see just once in their lifetime. I’ve never been lucky enough myself (yet!), but was hopeful from the initial talk that our guide gave us. Well, I ended up showing up early to the shop to chat about some diving, and the guide there told me that the chances of seeing the whale sharks this time of the year were slim to none..sigh, foiled again! Anyway, we did end up seeing dolphins (of course!), and a surprising number of humpback whales right off the shore. I’d seen humpbacks in the Antarctic before, but never this close, and for such a long duration! We weren’t able to get in the water with them, but I did have a great opportunity to see one of the biggest manta rays I’ve been around. Our guide spotted him below the surface, and told us to jump in with our snorkel gear. I was the only one who was interested, and I was down in a heartbeat chasing him with my camera. Unfortunately, I’m still learning how to shoot underwater, and chasing a fast moving animal on just snorkel gear isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I still managed to get at least one “decent” shot of him.
The next day the rest of the group slept in, and lazed on the beach while I went diving. The coral was pretty sub-average, but some of the critters were amazing! I’ve never seen octopus in the daytime before, but I spotted two HUGE ones crawling over the rocks, changing their colors constantly. Eventually the two of them ran into each other and immediately started flashing their colors. They extended an arm out, and did some kind of wrestling move, which I’m guessing was a type of courtship ritual. After a couple of minutes of that, they split off, and I decided I was going to need a cold shower. 🙂 Unfortunately I fell victim to the most common of underwater photographer problems…dead batteries just before the most spectacular sight on the trip!