Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jonah had good company

well chris stole the only good whale pun so that harpoons the into to my blog... but seriously today was much more fun than I thought a whale watch would be. I have never been sea sick before, but I did not want to chance it so I took 1 Dramamine anyways and I feel like it was a wise choice. The ride out was fine for me, actually it was quite entertaining trying to walk without seeing the upcoming swells and watching small children running around bounce off of walls and railings. About 1/2 to 2/3 of the way there I was at the top level and saw a pointed dorsal fin break the water at 7 o'clock (stern/back) a couple times. I think it may have been a Fin whale, Minke Whale or possible a rare Sei Whale (all of which have more pointed dorsal fins).
As we neared our location about 28 nautical miles away from Boston I saw whales breaking the surface and blowing in the distance - it was the only thing to break the horizon except other ships. (on a related note I still do not understand how the fishing with kites works, is it illegal? technically legal?). The first specimen I saw was a humpback whale logging - that is resting half of its brain while floating on the surface of the water. As we went farther we saw a group of 6-7 whales (Cajun and her calf, Crown and her calf as well as 2-3 other humpbacks which were not easily identifiable by Heather) This group was strange because it was so large - baleen whales do not live in pods and are usually alone except while with their calves. They sometimes congregate for hours, days or maybe even a week or two at most. They could be seen logging, doing Fluke down dives and I even thought I saw them show a few lunges where they move quickly forward (as opposed to diving and surfacing) to capture water (and the food swimming in it) in their large roqual mouthes. Almost as if to prove they were eating, they left a wonderful scat streak in the water which released a smell exactly as you would expect. My disposable camera ran out of pictures right as one came extremely close to the left side of the boat, fortunately chris and his rapid-fire camera got some absolutely amazing shots of it. After watching the whales live their daily lives we moved on in search of others which did not yield anything as wonderful as the first group. Eventually we turned around and left, at which point I fell asleep until we returned to port.
I understand how they can differentiate the whales by the markings on their flukes and the large scar on Crown's back, but was anybody able to look at a picture of just a fluke and definitively say which whale it was? The scar was all I had to go on, I do not see a crown shape or a cajun shape (nor do I know what a cajun shape would be) on any flukes, can somebody illuminate this for me?

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