Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our Last Class

Hi everyone,

Friday was a great way to end our class. I was excited for the whale watch this whole week and it ended up exceeding all my expectations. We saw three different types of whales (Humpback, Minke and Fin), including two mother-calf pairs. We were also lucky that one of the humpback mothers showed us her tail so that our guides were able to identify her and give us her unique history. Apparently they have been tracking her for many years now, and she has had many other calves in this time. I think that is really interesting that you can identify a whale by her tail pattern. Another interesting thing that I learned from our guide is that humpback whale calves gain 60 pounds a day!  I have difficulty imagining how that’s even possible.

As for the whaling industry, if hunting does not hurt the species’ sustainability, I do not think it is wrong. Especially with Native Americans, whaling is a very longstanding practice that has always been a part of their lifestyle. One whale can feed many people, and they use all parts of it. Native Americans hunt Minke whales for subsistence purposes— to me, that seems like the circle of life. We are predators that need to eat, just like every other animal.

Overall, this class was such an enjoyment for me. I had a great week and a half. Everyone’s energy and willingness to learn kept me more excited and engaged than I would have been with a less-enthusiastic class. I learned a lot from my peers as well as from my professor. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to take such a unique class. Thank you to Professor Berman and the entire class for a great week!

A Quick Note on Spectacle Island:

Spectacle Island was a great addition to add to the two islands that we had already been to (Lovell’s and George’s) because all three islands were very different from each other. Unlike the other two islands, Spectacle island is an old landfill and therefore it is littered with remnants of Boston’s past. I couldn’t believe the things we found there, among them old containers of pond’s cold cream, pepsi bottles, auto parts, ceramics, marbles, and more. And right next to these things, washed up on the beach, were rocks and shells of all shapes and sizes, including a moon snail shell (see the picture below)! This is evidence that points toward the hypothesis that moon snails are the cause of the holes in the shells we found on Lovell’s, not whelks. The convergence of nature and man-made products on the shore of Spectacle was very interesting, and it was incredible to see what the island has become today as compared to what it clearly used to be. 

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