Ecologist Kerry Finley skillfully maneuvers our two-person kayak in the 6-foot swells of icy Baffin Bay. "If you are going to swim with these bowhead whales, then you better go now," he yells against the wind.
Apprehensively, I peer out through my partially fogged mask. There in front of me is a flurry of tails, pectoral fins and sea spray.
"There are five or six of them in active sex play," Finley shouts.
"Sex what?" I holler back.
"Sex play. The young males jockey for position to rub themselves against the adult female." An ear-piercing shriek punctuates Finley's commentary. "You can tell this is active by how vocal they are," he screams.
Suddenly, a 20-foot-wide tail flicks out of the sea and hangs high above the water, dwarfing our fragile kayak. The little boat is a mere 18 feet long. By contrast, an adult bowhead can reach 60 feet in length and weigh up to 100 tons. Along with the fin whale, it is second in size to the blue whale, the largest animal …