【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape

In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Secti

Oct. 12

Special feature

【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (48) Breathtaking sperm whale dive to deep ocean, 2,000 meters down

A sperm whale raising its tail fin to begin diving downwards

Propelling its tail fin high in the air, the giant sperm whale begins to dive. Sightseers aboard the boat cheer at the breathtaking sight.

I searched for whales on a whale watching sightseeing boat that departed from Rausu Port. Although sperm whales have large bodies, they have comparatively small back fins, making them difficult to find. According to the guide on the sightseeing boat, sperm whales spout air at a slightly diagonal angle, and that can be one way of spotting them. But even using binoculars, all I could see was the brightly shining sea water.

Measuring over 15 meters in length, the sperm whale dives over 2,000 meters down into the deep ocean to find and eat its food. Nemuro Strait, situated between Shiretoko Peninsula and Kunashir Island, is shallow towards the southern part, at only 20 to 30 meters in depth. However, the northern offing reaches depths up to 2,400 meters. We cannot actually see the sperm whales diving into the deep ocean and fighting with large squid, but we can imagine it vividly.

The deep ocean with its abundant geographical diversity and plentiful ecosystem calls out to whales.
(Words and photo: Shigeru Tadanobu)

Location

Rausu Port

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