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.

After watching this group, we slowly moved away in the direction of some pretty visible splashing on the horizon. Just as with the previous days’ trips, we headed towards one patch of activity and then found ourselves right in the middle of a veritable feeding frenzy. Crowding at the rails was not much of a problem because we could stand still at any rail and see something fairly close by. We were treated to some chin breaching leading to kick feeding, lots of eager birds looking for leftovers, and some great lunge feeding, open mouth looks, and dragging. We were also able to spy sand lance in the water.

At one point, we had two feeding humpbacks only about 100 feet or so away from the boat. Thanks to the lighting, we could easily see the entire body of one of the whales right below the surface. Although you can get a sense of size by watching fluking dives, breaching, etc, in this case, we really got an excellent sense of the size of this whale because it was so close by and the visibility allowed a look at the entire length of the animal at once. It was truly awesome.

This was one of those days that I wish I had a digital camera because it seemed that some of the best moments came while I was changing film (like the whole body look I mentioned above). I still managed to shoot well over 200 shots, so I imagine it will take me some time to sort through them all when I get the film processed. Looking forward to that, though!

Summary for the day: in the immediate areas where the boat stopped, we saw a total of 19-23 whales. There were many others visible in the distance, a mile or more away. This was about as good a look at surface feeding as we could hope to get. Because so many of the whales appeared to be juveniles, they may not yet all be named. The naturalist announced Ventiska and Flounder as the only named whales she was able to find in the catalog today.

Oh and on the way back in for an extra little treat, we caught quick looks at a grey seal in Cape Cod Bay. It gave us a looking over and then disappeared beneath the surface. First time I had seen a seal on a Provincetown whale watch (saw one once from a New England Aquarium whale watch).

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