Thursday, August 7, 2014

Catherine Zhang -- Whale Watch day!

          I don’t really remember my last whale watch in Cape Cod, but this time of whale watch outside the Boston Harbor, it gave me a fantastic feeling and I learned a lot of things.
           The date was Friday, August 1st, the time was about 11. The weather was nice, sunny and windy with fresh sea breeze. The tide at that time was low. As we were in the ocean outside the harbor, we witnessed the power and beauty of the ocean.
            At first, we went next to the dock where we fed the striped basses with onion bread. When we were there for the first time and threw bread into the water, there were more than 5 striped basses in the water chasing the bread. But this time, there was only one striped bass in the water. Then the whole class started to have a debate about why the striped basses were gone after two weeks? We came up several reasons. First, it can be the weather which affects the water temperature. Last time the weather was a little bit chilly, and last Friday it was so hot. The surface of water was kind of hot so that all the fish prefer to stay on the bottom of the harbor. Also the heat in the water may decrease the dissolved oxygen rate and fishes don’t want to stay on the top. The reason can also be the food change that last time; professor fed the fish with onion bread. Maybe it is the greasy and tasty flavor attack the fish to come up for food. This time, the food is just hot dog bread. Also the water flow direction may affect which way they go. But I think they are big enough to not be affect by the water flow.
            As we walked around, sometimes under the dock or on the post under the water, there was small amount of bright-colored red tunicate stock on there. I learned some interesting things that tunicates are animals that they usually flow with the water wave. When they are smashed on any surface, they will then stick on the surface and start to reproduce to spread the whole place. 

            Then we finally got on the whale watch ship to see whales. At first, the ship was playing the soundtrack of whales, which sound like people yelling, crying, screaming with super low voice, and I consider that is very cute. Think it took us almost an hour to get the whale watch location, Stellwagen Bank. There is a girl on the ship telling us the information about whales. She said what we would see that day is humpback whales. Whales eat krill or other smaller fish who gather up all the time to live. They usually use the “Bubble Net Feeding” strategy to catch fish or krill. By using bubble to scare fish or krill to get close to each other so that the whales can swallow a lot once at a time. They don’t have teeth, so every time they swallow a tons of food, they filter the sea water within the food and push it out of their body and push the food down to the body. Humpback whales use to feed on their prey during summer and immigrate to the tropical or subtropical ocean to reproduce. I think we just saw same two humpback whale several times, which are North Star and Hippocampus because they have similar shapes of things on their tails. I realized that the humpback whales came out of the water for 10 second as its blowhole blows out water and then they slowly dived into the water with their beautiful tails. Then they are gone as they dive all the way deep to the ocean and come back up again after 3 to 5 minutes. My favorite things are its tail and the footprints the humpback whale left as it dived into the water. I watched the humpback whale slowly getting into the water and swinging up its black tail with white on the back, and then there was a special water area appeared. First I thought it was the oil from the whale flowing on the water. I kind of understand it is caused by the tail which pushes water up. After searching it online, I quote the introduction of footprint that “When a whale dives it makes mighty up and down thrusts with its tail. This causes the water pushed by the tail to well up to the surface forming slick spots known as whale footprints. Sometimes a series of footprints marks the path the whale is taking underwater.”(New England Seabirds: humpback whale). And I also love to see when they blow huge amount of water in the air from their blowhole. 

            Another thing is that I finally have a supported conclusion about where the pieces of broken blue mussels come from. I remember that time when I went to Fanpier and found a lot of fractured blue mussels and I was surprised to know that sea gulls dropped them there so that they can break the shell and eat the mussels. But I always wanted to see how they do that. So when professor was talking to the whole class about our plan, I noticed there was one sea gull flied out of water and climbed up really fast, and there was something black on its beak, and when it was high above the dock, it dropped the thing, and I gasped (Sorry professor, I didn’t fully pay attention when you were talking…I am probably an awful student, or a mother or a grandmother in the future as you said…). Then I realized that was probably a blue mussel. It dropped on the dock and cracked open, so the seagull can easily take out and eat the mussel meat. 

            Anyway, it was an amazing whale watch trip day. I have incredible feeling about these huge, intelligent creatures. 

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