The weather turned less friendly. Windy, white caps. The wind was sending seabirds like greater shearwaters and fulmars and storm petrels whizzing along the sea’s raw, undulating surface.
Looking ahead to a challenging day of trying to see fins in such tossing seas, our first major sighting was particularly rewarding: a right whale, one of the world’s most endangered whales. For minutes it slammed the water with its enormous tail flukes, sending geysers of spray. We watched until those flukes went straight up, driving the whale into the deep.
On a fine, calm, hot day at this time of year, one of these boats might now catch 15 swordfish. That wasn’t going to happen today. But we did see four, of which the captain struck 2 and missed one; the fourth went down before we came up to it. Both of the fish we struck immediately tangled the harpoon line on a small waterproof video camera that Angier had taped to the harpoon pole. One of those tangles allowed the fish to pull free of the dart. So we finished the day with one fish. A bad forecast made our captain decide to head in, so he could unload his fish—and us—and be back when the weather turned fine.