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.
Our first sightings of spouts came not long after we passed Race Point Light into the North Atlantic. Because the whales we passed were “just” swimming, we kept moving onward. And the journey was rewarded with a bevy of feeding patches. We had been lucky all weekend to have found very “hot” areas for feeding. It was a very fluid area as well, (no pun intended) as we would find a spot where 1-3 whales would be feeding, and it would just as quickly settle down. But, as with today, watching around the boat in all directions we could see new feeding spot sort of pop up. Between bird clouds and the light green water created by bubble net feeding, it was easy to see those spots even from a distance.
For the most part, we were not able to see a lot of flukes. While there was a good deal of kick feeding (interestingly starting at times with a little chin breach that led into the kick feed), the boat was often parallel to the whales, just by chance. Our one notable, nameable exception was Ventiska. It was 4 for 4 on seeing her this weekend, easily spotted because of her distinct dorsal fin. While the choppier waters today meant we couldn’t see quite as deeply into the water column, we could still see quite a bit. She and another whale spent quite a while >right< next to the boat (hence the post title), giving us great looks at their size. Interestingly, Ventiska also has a whiter lower jaw than most, so she’s unique in more than one way.
For the whole trip we were fairly close to land, and visibility was so good that the Race Point Light buildings were easily seen. The count at the end of the trip for “immediate vicinity” humpback whales was 29, though counting spouts and such in the distance would easily increase that number. Ventiska was the only positive ID made during the trip. We had at least two cow/calf pairs, and caught a minke and a fin whale passing through, as well.
I am going to miss being able to walk 5 minutes to reach a whale watch. I’ll certainly make every effort to keep finding ways and times to go out watching again during the season, and hope to make it back to the Cape. But I am also happy to have had such a great weekend of whale watching here in Provincetown. My thanks go out to each of the Dolphin Fleet naturalists I saw this weekend, on boats and in town: Nancy Scaglione-Peck, Mark Gilmore, Sarah Adams-Fortune (also a right whale scientist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies), John Conlon, and Mike Bertoldi.