Friday, August 7, 2009

Stellwagen Bank

Today we visited Stellwagen Bank looking for whales. It took us about an hour to get out to the feeding ground from the Boston Harbor. The first whale we saw was doing what they call logging which is basically resting after a dive, because whales cannot sleep or they would drown they float and shut down one part of their brain at a time while the other part rests and then they switch. The normal lifespan of a Humpback Whale is about 150 years. They come to feeding grounds like this and then they migrate to the warmer southern water to spawn. They need to gain about 10-12,000 pounds before they can migrate because feeding in the southern warmer water is difficult. These whales normally travel alone although they sometimes hook up with other whales for a short amount of time.

The most interesting thing of the day that we saw was when the Humpback whale was breaching, continually jumping out of the water. Although they are uncertain why they breach they have a few theories. The first theory is that they do it to attract other whales. The second theory is that they do it to get barnacles off of them, the finally theory is that they are just being young and playful. Another thing that I found interesting was that they dive down and scrape the bottom of the ocean with their bodies to try and stir up fish. Also for their size they have relatively small throats (about the size of a grapefruit) so they can’t eat anything really big, which I also found interesting. I also don’t think that eating a whale is acceptable unless that particular whale species has guaranteed future growth and development.

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