Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm just sitting here watching the whales go round and round.

So, I finally found myself on a boat, going whale watching. We departed at noon and started towards the open sea. First the now-familiar islands go by; once again I'm transfixed by the receding city, getting smaller and smaller until we are finally out to sea. In truth the land almost never disappear; to the right of us I can see the shoreline for a long while. Still, the city has disappeared completely and a feeling of bigness sets in. This engulfing bigness sets the scene for the humpbacks. This is an exclusively humpback day, and they are being very generous to us.

For a while  it's like water striptease, slowly unfolding. First we see bursts of blow, and then some tails. Every sighting elicits a collective gasp. Eventually we find ourselves in the midst of the humpbacks. I can see more and more of them, and the feeling is that they are all around us. We are close enough to see the tails rise as the whales dive, close enough to see the different color patterns on different whales. Finally, some whales get close enough so that I can get an impression of their shape and size, watching their giant backs curve until they tip their tale and disappear. We idle and let the whales show themselves. When several of them come towards us in groups of two, three, and once even six whales, from all directions, the ocean becomes not smaller but more defined by the movement of these giant creatures.

Now we are on our way back, having just left behind us. As the city rushes back towards us, it occurs to me how privileged I am to have seen what i just saw.  Endangered as they are, in this spot of Massachusetts bay it seemed like humpbacks fill the world. And just for a short while I feel like a visitor in a non human world. I'm in the neighborhood of these awesome creatures (and now I know where they live...)

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