I wish to add to this post in the name of full disclosure, as Eric has added a Wetpixel trip to Dominica in February, and of course there may be comparisons in terms of the costs of the Wetpixel trips to ours as advertised. I did discuss the trips with Eric prior to posting this thread. The trips I am organizing are not strictly speaking commercial ventures, but are actually designed to fulfill a research photography protocol in order to fulfill permit requirements for Dominican Sperm Whales as well of course to allow serious photographers to benefit.
I have completed two trips to Dominica, and my understanding of permit requirements is that they are not meant for simple tourist access to whales. As such the permitting process is not guaranteed for anyone who simply wishes to go to Dominica to swim with whales. I have had my own experience where I believed I was on a trip with a paid permit, when in fact a well known guide who was supposed to get the permit had not in fact obtained one.
The trips I am organizing are not in any way meant to compete with Wetpixel or any other commercial operation, the boat we use is a 32' open fisherman, comfortable for 6 people and captained by Jerry. As we are not a true commercial operation, our goal is to cover costs and reimburse Izzy our guide for his time as guide and for arranging permitting, helping with data collection for the study etc. For those wishing to see my inwater experience last November with Izzy as guide, you can see my gallery at http://waterworldima...736214994_pRKmU
With all due respect though, whether or not you see whales really depends on whether they are there in the area or not. Best times of the year are apparently November through March, but this will vary based mostly on whether the whales are close to shore when encounters are frequent, or whether they are further offshore, when encounters are less certain. Because the main commercial whale operations are viewing only, without inwater experience, no permits are required for these operations. However they are essentially out on a daily basis, and the captains communicate with each other as to where the whales are, and whale sightings are not kept secret from one boat to the other. The object is to keep this study project as an ongoing annual contribution to tracking and studying the behaviour of these remarkable creatures.
For those who do not know me, I am a full time plastic surgeon (lookandfeelbetter.com) with photography as a hobby and a few pennies occasionally. Those who know me will also agree that what you see is what you get, maybe not always politically correct, but full disclosure, no BS.
Edited by loftus, 30 September 2010 - 06:24 AM.
Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.