Archive for May, 2009

May 26th 2009
“I’m Ready for My Close Up, Mr. DeMille”

Posted under whale watches

As my time on the Cape was drawing to a close for this Provincetown visit, I could not resist going out on one more whale watch.  At 10 AM, I boarded the Dolphin 8.  It was another gorgeously sunny day, but a little breezier than the day before so the waters were a little choppy again.  Being the day after the long weekend, the boat was also not terribly crowded.  Shaping up to be another grand day on the water.

Fin whale expert John Conlon was our naturalist today.  One of the best things about whale watching from Provincetown is that all of the naturalists have many seasons behind them and are very familiar with the terrain, the ecosystems, and the animals within them.  It makes a big difference, IMNSHO, to have that experience couching the experience of the whale watch.

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May 26th 2009
It’s All About the Food

Posted under whale watches

Today I went out on whale watch #3 for the weekend. Again, I found myself on the Dolphin Fleet‘s Portuguese Princess, which was just fine. It was a beautiful day: sunny, little breeze, almost no clouds in the sky. So, everyone else seemed to want to go out, too, and the boat was fairly crowded.

Luckily, this was another one of those “I don’t know where to look!” watches where there was activity happening in virtually every direction. Our first “stop” was with some whales which were swimming somewhat casually. There were very few deeper dives so few looks at any flukes. The exception to this was one whale which kept rolling over and flipper slapping. Because of the bright sunlight, visibility was a little deeper into the water column than previously this weekend, so we could see a lot more just below the surface. Even though there were two other whales associated with the flipper slapper, that one was the only one really doing much more than just swimming. In the general vicinity there were other blows, so all told we had about 6 whales in the area. One was quickly identified as being Ventiska, thanks to her distinct dorsal.

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May 24th 2009
Whales and Whales and Whales, Oh My!

Posted under whale watches

That pretty much sums up today’s whale watch. Went out again from Provincetown on the Dolphin Fleet‘s Portuguese Princess. Weather was a little nicer. Still cool with a breeze but the sun came out while we were on Stellwagen Bank, no rain! Better weather also meant a more crowded boat. According to the naturalist, Mark Gilmore, there were around 200 people on board a 350-capacity boat. That was plenty crowded for me!

Our trip today took us a little farther away from shore as Race Point was out of sight. But once we found whales, it was rather like hitting the jackpot! We found Ventiska again, hanging out with a mother and calf. We got good looks at them, and could see several other spouts in the vicinity, though the whales at this spot were not being especially active at the surface.

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May 23rd 2009
The Perils of Being A Whale

Posted under misc

While we had a fantastic whale watch from Provincetown, over on Herring Cove Beach was a different whale activity: a necropsy. On the 22nd, a juvenile fin whale washed ashore. En route to Stellwagen Bank, we could see the whale, and a growing gathering of people, on the beach, very close to the parking lot at Herring Cove.

It’s a gruesome thing, but I’d never seen a necropsy, so once we came back to shore, I hopped in the car to go over. Much of the whale had already been removed by this time. It seemed still “whole” at around 10 when our whale watch boat passed by, but when I arrived at 2, it was apparent that no time was being wasted. This was, after all, a holiday weekend, and having a dead whale on a popular beach was not a good scenario.

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May 23rd 2009
Fantastic Whale Watch!

Posted under whale watches

I am in Provincetown, MA for my annual Memorial Day Weekend getaway. When here, I squeeze in as many whale watches as I can manage, and I kicked that off today. Went on the Dolphin Fleet‘s Portuguese Princess at 10 AM. Because it was cool and overcast, the boat was not very crowded which is a very nice treat. It still got a little competitive at the rails, but not nearly as much as it could have been were it a sunny and warm day.

The peril of a first in the day whale watch is the challenge of finding where the whales went overnight. We did not have any problem finding whales today. In fact, we found them so quickly that we were not even far off the Cape. The buildings at Race Point Light were easily visible throughout the trip. Our first sighting opportunity landed us amidst 10-12 humpback whales, including at least 2 cow/calf pairs, doing very active surface feeding. We saw some kick feeding and some great open mouth lunge feeding with wide open looks. Not yet eating solid food, we saw some breaching from one of the calves, too. They seem to know how to entertain themselves while mom is busy feeding. After this tremendous “show” for about half an hour, the bait fish seemed to have dispersed because the whales quieted right down. We could still see numerous spouts around, but the dramatic surface activity was much less.

We searched for some more whales and got quick looks at a few. Much to my delight, one of these whales was Salt! She may be the grande dame of Stellwagen Bank, but in my 50+ trips out, this is the very first time I had seen her. She was travelling with Cardhu but again they were being sort of quiet, just hanging out at the surface. We never even got a look at Salt’s flukes (good thing she has that distinctive dorsal fin!).

All told, we had about 19-21 humpback whales today and one distant look at a fin whale travelling through. Named whales ID’d during the trip included Salt, Cardhu, Lavaliere, Ventiska, and Ganesh. I am already eagerly looking forward to my next trip out. Since I am still shooting film, I won’t have photos to put up for a couple of days, but will do so as soon as I have them.

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May 21st 2009
Photos!

Posted under Uncategorized

It took me a little longer than planned, but I have posted my photos from the 2007 and 2008 seasons up in the blog. Just hit the gallery link, and enjoy!

Eventually, I may add earlier years but they have to be scanned so that may take a while…

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