27th 2009
Marco! Polo! (or, Where Are You, Whales?)

Posted under whale watches

Went out for whale watch #6 today from Gloucester, on Capt. Bill and Sons with the Whale Center of New England. The weather here in New England has been decidedly unexciting lately, with more rain than anything else. On shore today, though, it was beautiful with sunny skies and some clouds – but not those of the threatening variety – and it was looking like we would have a nice trip. I had organized a group of friends and friends of friends from Camp Camp, and was really hoping to get a good trip in.

Depends on one’s definition of good :-) By mid afternoon, all I could think was to remind myself that just being out on the water was a Very Nice Thing. As soon as we passed the breakwater of Gloucester Harbor, we were enveloped in fog and visibility was dramatically reduced. I give a lot of credit to the crew who worked so hard to find us whales, even taking us far enough south that we encountered the Dolphin Fleet‘s Dolphin 8! We did find two adult whales there, but were only able to see their dorsal fins. They were swimming at the surface but not showing us much. The one dive we saw from them was not “dramatic” enough for a showing of flukes.

So we made our way back towards north, stopping at a point where there had been a report of a mother and calf. Our naturalist, Laura, asked us to remain quiet as we were again enveloped in fog (the area where we found the two adults was considerably clearer) and we were going to need to listen for exhalations. After a few moments of anticipation we were indeed rewarded by the appearance of Fulcrum and her calf (already determined to be a male). Fulcrum is one of the easiest whales to ID because of the boat propellor injury to her dorsal fin. Because we had already spent so much time on our search, we couldn’t stay with these whales for long, though before we left the calf graced us with some playful surface activity, rolling over, showing his pectoral fins, and playing with seaweed. He even spyhopped a couple of times.

Our 3.5 hour whale watch became a nearly 5 hour trip, and the group of people I brought aboard – some of whom had never been whale watching before – were real troopers to be so patient and just enjoy the day. I am glad for them we did get some good whale sightings. Because I was so spoiled with the great sightings in May, I am anxious to get out again soon, hopefully with better weather on the ocean! Still, any day with whales is a good day, indeed.


4 Responses to “Marco! Polo! (or, Where Are You, Whales?)”

  1. Priscilla Ballou on 29 Jun 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    It was a great day. So what it was cold and damp and grey? We were among friends, Amy was a great guide, and we did finally get to see some whales.

    Fulcrum’s calf was a total cutie and proved to me that kids of *all* species play. His mom was toodling along, and he’d move along at her side for a while until he just had to break away and mug for the wierd little creatures on the funny piece of self-propelled flotsam. He’d roll over and show us his tummy, then tuck his head under and flop his tail at us. Next he’d go under and come up with only eyes and mouth showing in a spy hop. Finally he’d lean back and wave his long white pectoral fin at us. We couldn’t help it — we waved back! “Bye bye!” we cried as we finally had to head back to Gloucester. What a happy little boy.

    At church on Sunday, at the time for intercessory prayers, I asked for protection for all the species who are endangered by our selfishness and greed. I asked for special protection for humpback whales and for Fulcrum and her calf.

    We shouldn’t have to have personal encounters with darling little male animals in order to take responsibility for our bad behavior, but if it would help I’d take the leaders of national governments out with Captain Bill to meet the young son of Fulcrum. Maybe then they’d get it and start responding as if other species had some value. That whale kid would make a great ambassador.

  2. Jackie Goss on 29 Jun 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    I think your last line said it best Amy: “Still, any day with whales is a good day, indeed.” It was a beautiful day by that measure, and seeing the whales was inspiring and fun. Thanks again!

  3. Anne on 30 Jun 2009 at 12:10 am #

    Have to say, that sound of whale breath in fog is one of the spookiest but also most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard!

    And I love what Priscilla says above about watching the little guy play. I had that experience once, too — back in 2001 on a morning whale watch, Owl’s calf was breaching and breaching and then he’d roll around & flipper slap for a while, and it was so clear that he was just playing like any baby mammal would. I mean, I knew they were mammals, but it had never really hit me until that day how much I had in common with them! Nice moment.

    When’s your next trip?? :)

  4. Amy on 30 Jun 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    Priscilla, what a great summation of the day! And I agree about the calf being a great ambassador!

    Jackie, thanks to you and all for taking a chance on our little adventure :-)

    Anne, if I could I would go tomorrow! Whale Center is now on Twitter and between their updates and those from the Aquarium, hearing about all of the other activity they are seeing is just torture! I have to finish a website this week, but if all goes as hoped, I may reward myself next week. I so wish I was closer to the coast!

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