The Silver Bank is the largest mating/calving grounds of humpback whales in the world located 80 miles North East of the Dominican Republic. Every year, between the months of December and April, some 3,000 humpback whales come to breed and give birth in these warm waters. It is also called the Exclusive Economic Zone. In 1996, with the goal of protecting the humpback whales, and endangered species, the Silver Bank on the Atlantic Ocean was declared a Marine Mammal Sanctuary. On July 1996, the sanctuary area was extended to protect the entire area where the humpback whales concentrate in Dominican waters.
The Silver Bank is a submarine platform of coral reef and it’s part of a system of banks which extends from the Bahamas to the Navidad Bank. Its crystal clear waters are protected from the heavy waves and winds by a strong reef which, though dangerous for ships and vessels, creates an ideal environment for the humpback whales to breed, give birth and nurse their newborn calves. This has made it a major concentration area for humpback whales.
Swimming humans stand little chance of keeping up with the boisterous, fast moving males. Instead, it is the cow and calf pairs or small family groups that present the best opportunity for in-water study and interaction. A maximum of three boats may watch the same group of whales. If whales approach within a 100 feet of a boat, the engine must remain in neutral. Swims with the whales are allowed only through a “soft encounter” technique that allows the whale to approach the swimmer, rather then the reverse. Chasing a whale is probited, as is scuba diving.
Adult humpbacks can rest underwater for up to 20 minutes, surface for a few breaths, then return to their resting state. But calves must surface every three to five minutes, depending on their age, before returning to their mother. Swimming with these majestic mammals is truly an amazing experience.
When to Visit Dominican Republic
The months between December and April are mating and breeding times for the humpback whales.