Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whale Watch

Thursday August 6

After a morning final exam and then flying in a taxi to get to the wharf, a nice boat ride and some exciting whale watching was just what I needed. However, I did miss the morning meeting which Joe described as "touch-felt" this trip was, for me, the funnest one we have gone on in this course. You never realize how special some of these animals are until you see them, so it was a great experience to see these whales up close. It was a nice day out, conditions were great. Once we got out to Stellwagen Bank we got to see three humpback whales up close. While on the watch there was a lady who was narrating the trip giving us some fun facts on these creatures. She talked about all kinds of stuff like their breathing, how they can blow up to 1200 hundred balloons in one breath and how they can dive for up to a half hour even though in this particular area it only takes them about two seconds to get to the bottom. She also told us about the fluke dive that they do which creates an image of an oil spill at the surface, even though these animals have no known oil glands on their body. We also learned that these whales here at SB were all either eating, resting (logging, like the first whale that we saw) or even sleeping. They breed here for 5 to 6 months from april to october. Many of these whales parents could have easily come from place as far as greenland. these animals can use many senses to find food like feel the vibrations of fish. Many use touch or hearing. They will dive down and scrape the ocean bottom to stir up some fish(sandlance and sand eels) and bring them out into the open. Vision is available both above and below the water. though its limited to ten feet usually due to the heavy plantlife and mucky water. These animals go through two growth spurts, the first time when they are one and the second time when they are about 4 or 5 years old and they reach their adult size. These animals have certain special parts to them such as the flipper, which can weigh about a ton, and the surface area acts in use like large ears do for elephants to help regulate body temperature, because they don't have pours to sweat. The other whales we saw upclose were more active. they were breaching and fin-slapping alot. They are not sure why they do this but, they think that it could be some sort of a signal maybe for other whales. Tell them there is food? I am not sure, but it was very cool to see. You could really see the raw power in these animals and the force that was inside them. It was incredible. These creatures are also extremely independent and almost never seen with another, unless: they are a mother and calf in which they are together for up to a year; they are mating, in which they still do not keep any form of relationship that lasts substantial time; or they are feeding, where one whale hear the other and went to see if they could join. They do not travel together because they eat so much that there would never be enough food all the time for the both of them.

I do not think that these whales should be eaten, they are still and endangered species that is recovering and they should be given more time to expand their population. I think that in the future it should be okay, as long as it is controlled and does not get out of hand which can potentially threaten the species existance.

- Ryan Santana

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