The Dominican Republic teamed up with ABC News’ ‘Good Morning America’ for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the beautiful north coast of the country, swimming alongside humpback whales within their natural habitat. The program’s Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee set sail out into the Atlantic Ocean to witness the beauty of these formerly endangered animals up-close and share the experience live with viewers nationwide.
Aired on Tuesday, January 29, the episode followed Zee as she came face-to-face with these 25-30 ton (55,000 – 65,000 lbs.) gentle giants; witnessing and learning about their courting, mating and calving behaviors first-hand, and exploring the natural beauty of Dominican Republic’s Silver Bank area.
Situated roughly 80 nautical miles north of resort city of Puerto Plata, the Silver Bank Sanctuary is one of only two areas in the entire world where nature lovers can experience an in-water encounter with humpback whales in a legal and environmentally conscious way.
Each spring, 5,000 to 7,000 Northern Atlantic humpback whales migrate toward the north coast of Dominican Republic to the Silver Bank for mating season, where they can comfortably mate and nurse newborn calves. Research indicates that the Silver Bank is home to the largest population of seasonal migrating humpbacks in the North Atlantic Ocean, if not the world.
Aquatic Adventures is one of three highly-experienced outfitters located just outside of beautiful Puerto Plata that offer this truly unique experience. Each tour operator is committed to facilitating peaceful encounters between humans and whales. Professional guides instruct tourists on whale etiquette, allowing the whales to choose when they interact and to set the terms of the interaction. Other operators include the Agressor Fleet and Conscious Breath Adventures.
Nestled within the Caribbean mountains on the Northeast Coast of Dominican Republic, the Puerto Plata and Samaná regions are famous for its quiet, unspoiled beaches, radiant turquoise ocean waters and lush green mountains, making it a bucket-list destination for eco-tourists and travelers alike.
From January through April in the Silver Bank, and January through March in Samaná Bay, wildlife and thrill-seeking enthusiasts flock to the coast to observe whales playing, vying for each other’s attention, nursing and jumping—you can even hear the yearning song of the male humpback whales, who become especially vocal during mating season.
“For nearly 60 years, Dominican Republic has collaborated with environmental agencies and leaders like the United Nations and The Nature Conservancy to protect our country’s ecological treasures and marine life,” said Magaly Toribio, Marketing Advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. “Whether visitors wish to swim alongside humpback whales or observe marine life from aboard a boat, the experience is immersive and magical, bringing thousands of visitors each year closer to nature.
If you can’t get on a boat excursion but still want to observe Samaná’s majestic humpback whales from land, the Punta Balandra observatory–inaugurated in 2011, and approximately 14 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of Santa Bárbara de Samaná–offers a unique perspective. Aside from spotting the humpback whales, you’ll get a splendid panoramic view over the peninsula’s surrounding coastline. Also, in Santa Bárbara de Samaná is the iconic Whale Museum. Here you’ll learn why the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast is one of the most important humpback whale sanctuaries in the world. Exhibits include the full, 40-foot skeleton of a humpback whale found in 1993.
To relive the magic and tune into the segment please click here.