Escort Ship in Zamami Island

HOME Whale and Dolphin Travel
Vol. 004

Escort Ship in Zamami Island

Date taken
February - March 2016
Location of Zamami Island on a map

A view of the whale-watching fleet as they make their way toward the humpback whales
based on news from the Inasaki lookout. On the far right is Captain Sano's Escort ship.

I have tried watching whales at Zamami three times over the past two years, and although I was able to see humpback whales the first two times, I could only see them from a distance and not experience them.

Captain Sano's wife, Yumi, says, (Picture on the right)
"When we take people whale-watching, we want them to see Zamami as it really is. When we run a whale-watching boat, we tend to push ourselves to show our guests the flashy whale action.But whales are natural. We don't always get to see them in all their glory. There are times when we cannot see whales. We want you to see and feel nature as it is, not as it is staged".

It is true that whale watching is a blissful experience, whether you see a whale or not, as you sail across the vast ocean, feel the sun, the wind, the sea, and become one with nature. It is the most luxurious time of all.
However, in my case, I want to create "stories" that cover whales and dolphins. I want to see whales up close, feel their breath, and experience them.
The third time I visited Zamami Island, I told Captain Sano that I wanted to feel the whales up close and personal this time.
On the day of the whale watching, it had been raining the day before and I wasn't even sure if the boat would leave, but Captain Sano listened to my request and sent the boat out early with just me on board.
In addition to Captain Sano, "Mr.Migration" was also on board.By the way, the reason why I named him "Mr. Migration" is that he chases humpback whales in Okinawa in winter and guides brown bears and sperm whales in Shiretoko in summer. Isn't it just like the migration of humpback whales?
This is why I call him "Mr. Migration".

As I mentioned in vol. 3 about the accommodation situation in Zamami, the people of Zamami do not want people from the interior to work on the island. Despite this, many of the people I have come to Zamami to interact with are all people who have moved here from the interior.

Captain Sano looks like he is from Okinawa, but he is actually from Kagoshima Prefecture. After graduating from the University of the Ryukyus, he went to work for a general company, but got hooked on sea kayaking when he was in college, so he quit the company and started working at a marine store called "Heartland" in Zamami.

Yumi was a tourist bus guide in Nagoya,but she moved to Zamami  island because she admired Zamami.

Then, Yumi also applied for a position at the Marine Shop Heartland and came here.
Yumi had been working as a bus guide in Nagoya, but was fascinated by the Kerama Sea, so she got her diving certification and came to Zamami. That's where she met Mr. Sano, and that's how they got married.
After that, the two of them became independent and started their own store, Natureland Kayaks, and were able to have their own whale-watching boat, the Escort.

(Yumi Sano with Natureland Kayaks)

I pestered Yumi to find out if she had anything interesting to say about humpback whales.
Then, Yumi told me an incredibly wonderful episode.
They have a child named "Ayumi," and around the same time that "Ayumi" was born, her husband, Captain Sano, witnessed the birth of a baby humpback whale in the waters of Zamami.
So this baby whale was also given the name "Ayumi".
By the way, this whale, Ayumi, had a big feature. It has no dorsal fin and is smooth. That's why you can easily tell when Ayumi is coming back to the sea of Zamami from the northern sea.
But for some reason, there was a time when she didn't come back for three years in a row. When she suddenly came back, the people of Zamami were overjoyed, saying, "Ayumi has come back.
This is a really wonderful episode that shows the warmth that the people of Zamami have for the humpback whales.

Captain Sano found a humback whale baby. The name of the daughter who was born in the same year was taken,
and it named the humback whale as Ayumi ! Ayumi has no dorsal fin and is smooth.

In Zamami, there is one more person from Nagoya that we must not forget.
He is Hirokazu Otsubo, a fierce advocate of the Zamami Whale Watching Association since its inception. His love of whales led him to Zamami Island, where he worked in a variety of jobs and participated in the establishment of the Whale Watching Association. He is in charge of the Zamami Whale Watching Association and is also the vice president of the Japan Whale Watching Association.

Now that I've introduced the people I met in Zamami, next time I'll finally tell you about my third time watching in Zamami.

(Mr. Otsubo gives passengers a warning and explanation about whales before we start whale watching.)