Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday July 28th. The tide is high. it is about 9:55 a.m. and we are boarding the Nora Vittoria. We are on our way to Stellwagen Bank which is 842 square miles and is federally protected. It is located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. It is an excellent whale watching site and home to many other species of marine life.

We set out for open waters and were on our way to "whale watch" for part of the day. We sailed past Deer island and a couple of others and continued for what seemed like about an hour. One of the tour guides gave a briefing on whales, the water depth, the way they open their mouths for the fish to enter their mouth for food, and how soon we should begin to see them. She mentioned that some of them have names - I think they were Dunkin, Kagey, and Percit.

Almost suddenly one popped out of the water, went down and while we waited for it to come back up another one appeared on the opposite side. Then three Humpback whales appeared together. It was amazing to see such huge creatures come out of the water and nose back down and to see the white side tails gracefully splashing through after that huge body. The Humpback are found in several water bodies across the planet. They feed on smaller fish and their habitat ranges from polar to tropical waters. The hump back got its name because of the way its back arches out of the water when getting ready to take a deep dive. megaptera is its true scientific name and it means large winged in reference to its long flippers. Its tail has distinct black and white markings which can be used to distinguish one whale from another. Some would come up and by the time I got to my feet to take a picture I would only catch the tail going back down in the water. There was one that looked like a big log just floating in the water. The guide said he was taking a nap. I guess even if we are animals, we do deserve a little down time.

We also saw the Mink Whale which was not too big. They are smaller than the hump back and their diet is a wider variety of fish. Overall, it was a good day with great sightings. As we were leaving to head back to the wharf one "show off" decided to put on a mini show for those who did not get a good enough view, and sure enough he/she was spectacular. It dove in and out as is saying if you did not see any of my family here are some memories to take home. It was awesome. We headed back for what seemed a much longer drive back, since all the anxiety for the day was over. It was my very first whale watching trip, I enjoyed it and i do look forward to another one.

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