Thursday, August 7, 2008

from snails to WHALES!!

Today we went aboard the New England Aquarium vessel (Explorer II?) that took us to the Stellwagen Bank to try to observe whales. I went on a whale watch once before long, long time ago. It was out of Provincetown and all I remember is how amazed I was by the size of these creatures. Needless to say I was enthusiastic to go this (second) time with a hope to once again observe these mammals. This time around I was much more informed both on the place that we were going (Stellwagen bank) and on the whales themselves (thanks to a research paper that we had to do before today’s voyage) so that made the trip that more enjoyable (and even educational!)
The ride out there was fun, after we started moving I left the cabin and walked to the front left of the ship observing the Boston harbor, and keeping an eye for potential whales (u never know!). About an into the ride a bunch of my classmates started to make their way to the top deck claiming that they think we are here ... so I followed them. Once on the top I went over to the right side and started staring into the distance looking for whales. Not before long I saw a dorsal fin in the distance. While I was focusing on it I noticed a commotion in the front of the ship and proceed to move there. There I saw at least 4 whales breaking the surface and blowing air out of their blowholes. They were dark and looked leathery and slippery. The whales proceeded to dive and I saw a their flukes (well a couple of them). The whales resurfaced after about 5 minutes and this time I even heard them as their were blowing air out of their blowholes. This time around, I counted 6 of them. They were logging, diving, swimming around.
After enjoying a good arial view I proceeded down to the first deck to get up-close and personal with these whales. I was not disappointed about 10 minutes after I came down I was standing on the left side of the boat and a couple of whales surfaced right infront of me (kind of took me by surprise as I was not expecting that). I saw they blowholes (initially it looked like they had 3 holes close together, in a triangle, but later I changed my mind as I only saw 2). I think one of the whales was named Cajun and one was Crown, 2 of the whales where calves). I learned later that it was weird seeing so many of them together since whales do not live in packs and are not attached to each other (except for the mothers and their calves)
Our tour guide was saying over the speaker that she could identify all of the whales by the design/patter on their flukes (it is like a fingerprint for humans). She explained how they name the whales after they are two years (2 reasons for that: 1) their pattern is changing before and only after 2 years the pattern finalizes and 2) they want to make sure the calf survives), so after they see the baby 2 summers in a row the “experts” in the field all pitch in their ideas for the name and they have a big naming party to vote on the best one. The name cannot be that of a human, it has to strictly do with the design of the fluke and what it reminds them of.
I definitely saw more whales than I expected on this trip and a lot closer than I predicted. Needless to say I was left very satisfied with today’s trip!!


No comments: