Archive for May, 2008

May 29th 2008
First whale watch of 2008

Posted under whale watches

Yes, it happened a little while ago, May 3 to be exact, but I’ve been busily getting this site set up so have some post-catching up to do!

On to the good stuff. I went out for my first trip of the year from Gloucester, MA on an Earth Day whale watch fundraiser for the Whale Center of New England. The trip was on the Capt. Bill and Sons boat on which I went out several times last year. We wound up with an early spring New England day: overcast, chilly, and with some rain. Still, we were off to see whales! We left the dock at 9 AM and got back in around 4:30. Many of the Whale Center staff were on board, including Mason Weinrich, the exec director who did much of the narration. Mason can ID whales faster than anyone I’ve seen, so it’s always a treat to be out on one of his trips.

The day of watching started like the whales were feeling the weather, too… the first group we came upon as we reached the northern part of Stellwagen Bank were not “doing” much, i.e. not being very surface active. Still, it’s always nice to see whales!

Springboard, breachingBy noon, we had found a much more active whale, identified as Springboard. She thrilled us with a show that included breaching and flipper slapping. We were in the vicinity of the BE Buoy by this time. For me, nothing is more thrilling than seeing a whale breach.

As the day went on, we did find several other clusters of whales. Among the whales ID’d was Zeppelin, most typically see in the Great South Channel. This was the first time she had been seen in the Stellwagen Bank area for several years. Later in the day, in a separate group, a calf of Zeppelin’s, Milkweed, was “cavorting” with some others.

Chin breach from SpringboardNew fact for me on the day – I love that, no matter how many whale watches I’ve been on (I think I am up to 30-40 by now), I always learn something new. Since it is early in the season and the whales are just returning to these feeding grounds, Mason commented that he can tell some of them are looking a little thin after the long fast. And how can he tell? The appearance of a shoulder blade on the side, just behind the blowholes. I managed to catch it on film when Springboard did a chin breach. You should be able to see it in this photo.

All in all, cold and wet but still and always amazing. Named humpbacks that were announced during the trip included: Hancock, Falcon, Rapier, Glo (easy to identify since she is missing much of her left fluke), Photon, Springboard, Reflection, Zeppelin, Crystal (first known calf of Stellwagen Bank’s grand dame, Salt, who I still have yet to see!), Milkweed, Glowstick, Buzzard. There was an announced sighting of a fin whale, but I did not see it.

Gallery to be posted soon. Will make a post when it is up. Plus, I’ve done more whale watches since so will be making new posts on those.

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May 13th 2008
Yes, I am a true and evolving whale geek!

Posted under misc

Within the last 5 years or so, after going out on countless whale watches from Provincetown, MA, I came to realize that this “whale thing” was more than a passing fancy. I started going out on more whale watches from additional locations (still in the Northeast US) and taking ever more photos. I was reading whatever I could get my hands on. When I talked about whales and whale watching, it was transformative – people commented on how much more animated I became. Then one day, a friend cut me off in mid-sentence to say, “you’re a whale geek!”. She’d professionally videotape whale watches so she had a trained eye. I took special glee in stumping the naturalists with my questions.

So, yep, I’m a whale geek. Decided I should start a blog to more properly chronicle my whales watch experiences, post photos, talk about news in the world of whale conservation and protection, etc etc.

And when I grow up *grin*, I want to be a professional whale watcher. (Ok, this means doing things along the lines of naturalist on whale watch boats, research, education – whatever way I can be more immersed in the world of whales. If I am really lucky, I can also help contribute to our learning of whales. To that end, I’m trying to prepare myself for grad school. Will possibly talk about that here too).

In 2007 I set a personal record of 13 whale watches in a season, which is no small feat given that I live 2.5 hours from the coast. And I would have done more if I could. Let’s see what happens in 2008.

In any event, whale fans – welcome! :-)

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