Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brewster and the Whales

In my opinion, today was the most interesting day of class so far. Going to the hearing was an incredibly interesting way to see hands on how much work and effort has been put into restoring and preserving the harbor we have been enjoying this past week. Many smart, well-educated, and passionate people have dedicated time and effort to maintain the harbor for the wildlife that lives there and the people that enjoy it. Often we find that what is best from an economical standpoint is not best from an environmental standpoint and a compromise is necessary to solve the issue. Bruce addressed this issue in his statement by noting the revenues that a beautiful and clean harbor brings to the commonwealth of Massachusetts, revenues that may be diminished if islands of the national park became industrialized. I thought Bruce made a compelling argument and I am grateful he gave us the opportunity to see such an intriguing hearing today.
This afternoon was also very fun and interesting. We went on a whale watch out in Stellwagen Bank and saw quite the performance. The first whale we spotted was resting (aka logging) which was not that entertaining but was interesting all the same. We learned that a while never truly sleeps, if their brain completely shut off they would drown. So they shut off one half of their brain at a time to rest. Because the whale never breached, our guide was unable to identify which whale we saw resting. Next we observed a very sociable, fun loving juvenile whale.

The guide believes it was a calf (baby whale) of Trident, one of the whales that frequents Stellwagen Bank and has been named by the “Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary”. As explained on their website,, “Names help scientists easily distinguish and refer to whales in the field.” Additionally they elucidate, “The rules of whale naming are simple: the name must be short;, it should be descriptive about the whale's fluke pattern, body scars or other identifiable feature; it cannot be gender specific; it cannot be a person's name; and it cannot duplicate another name on the list.” Most of the whales have pretty cool names if you ask me; I particularly like the names “Trident” and “Paintball”. We saw an additional whale off in the distance during our time out in Stellwagen Bank, but didn’t get an opportunity to observe it closely. I particularly found it intriguing how far the whales travel when they migrate. I read an interesting article about it if anyone is interested,

I am looking forward for an exciting last day tomorrow!

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