One Whale of a Vu!
Aqua-Vu® Underwater Camera transforms the whale watching experience
Crosslake, MN – “To go beneath the surface and observe these amazing creatures without stressing or harming them is simply incredible,” proclaims Steve Rendell, a whale watching enthusiast from the Commonwealth of Dominica.
A largely undiscovered, under-touristed paradise, the island of Dominica—referred to as the Nature Island— lies between Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Dominica’s tropical waters house the only year-around, non-migratory population of sperm whales in the world.
In Spring 2017, working with Dive Dominica Watersports, Rendell and his wife Patti were granted the rare opportunity to snorkel with sperm whales. Passionate about promoting Dominica as a tourism destination, the Rendells, who operate Salisbury Hill Productions, began searching for a better way to treat whale watchers to a unique underwater experience, sans scuba mask.
Rendell’s search lead him to underwater camera innovator Aqua-Vu, and eventual purchase of an Aqua-Vu HD10i Pro underwater viewing system. Mounted to a steel pole deployed off the bow of the whale-watching boat, the high-definition underwater viewer plays live sub-sea footage on a 10-inch Aqua-Vu LCD. The camera has become an attraction in itself, compelling tourists to huddle around the view-screen for a whale and dolphin play-by-play.
“On most whale-watches, guests only get to see a small fraction of the animal when it comes to the surface, maybe for a fleeting second or two,” notes Rendell. “Watch boats must also maintain a certain distance to avoid stressing the animals.
“The Aqua-Vu really takes the experience to the next level, showing whale watchers the animals’ fascinating underwater behavior, in addition to their spectacular surface breaching.”
To further enrich the experience, Dive Dominica and Salisbury Hill Productions offer each guest a special souvenir video of their whale watch, providing both above- and underwater footage. “This has been a big hit and a huge benefit to the guests’ appreciation of these wonderful animals,” adds Rendell.
Daniel Perryman, owner of Dive Dominica, says the Aqua-Vu camera has helped make his whale watching expeditions the number one rated tour on the island. “The quality, durability and precision of this camera are amazing,” says Perryman. “It projects a crystal-clear picture and shows our guests amazing real-life imagery of our underwater friends. Unquestionably, the Aqua-Vu has pushed the envelope of the whale watching industry in our area.”
Populated by 22 different species of cetaceans, Dominica’s deep coastal waters provide feeding grounds for short-fin pilot whales, false killer whales, pygmy sperm whales and humpback whales—as well as huge pods of dolphins. The sperm whale is the largest predator on earth, reaching 70-feet and weighing 60 tons; Dominica is the only country in the world where the oceanic giant can be sighted year-around. Juvenile and female sperm whales do not migrate, while mature males roam to and from polar regions, mating in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Adds Rendell: “We believe that the more people who safely experience the magic of these creatures—from our above-water perspective as well as from the animals’ own underwater viewpoint—the more we’ll invest in protecting the future of the species.”
The Aqua-Vu underwater camera rig treats whale watchers to a compelling underwater view.