Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hi Everyone! I had a lot of fun on the whale watch today, and as you can see, got a lot of good pictures. During the trip, we saw 3 humpback whales, 2 up close and one off in the distance, which actually surprised me. I expected to see mainly Minke whales since they are the most common in this area, but was definitely not disappointed with the humpbacks! It was especially lucky that we got to see one of the whales constantly breaching out of the water more than usual. According to the announcer on the boat, it unknown why whales do this breaching behavior, but there are a few theories. One is that they might be trying to knock off barnacles or parasites from their skin, another is that breaching (along with flipper slapping) is a way the whales communicate with one another, and yet another idea is that they just do this for the fun of it. Though slightly less exciting, we also saw a whale doing its resting, or logging, behavior at the surface. They do this when they are just resting or sleeping, and this behavior can last from 20 mins to several hours. The boat announcer also told us that whales are conscious breathers and can only rest half of their brain at one time in order to keep breathing, so they are never fully asleep the way us humans would consider sleep.

The boat announcer also told us that the staff there can identify most individual humpback whales by the markings on the underside of their tales, which they raise up into the air when they are preparing for a deep dive. Apparently, each humpback has a pattern that is unique, much like the fingerprint of a person, which i did not know prior to the whale watch. I also thought it was interesting that the underwater plateau of Stellwagon Bank causes a nutrient-rich upwelling zone, which causes large schools of fish and therefore attracts these whales.

As for the question of whether or not is is acceptable to eat whales... my answer is absolutely not! First off, i don't understand how someone could want to eat an animal that is as rare as whales are. Aren't these people saddened by the idea that their children may never be able to go on a whale watch if whaling whipes them all out? Second, there is just not a large enough population of all species of whales to support a world-wide whaling industry. So why should some countries be allowed to whale while others cannot? How are we supposed to regulate an industry that would be spread over the worlds oceans? The answer is that we simply cannot, and therefore i think that commercial whaling of any sort should be outlawed and somehow this law should be more stingintly enforced than it currently is.

Below is a video i shot today of one of the whales beaching. Enjoy! See you all tomorrow.
-Sam Gifford

No comments: