1st 2008
Memorial Day Weekend 2008

Posted under whale watches

I have been going to Provincetown, MA over Memorial Day weekend for something like 15 years now.  When I started my regular visit, it was for the LGBT scene.  Now, that scene is secondary and I go for the whales.    I’ll compress the 4 whale watches I did over this weekend into one post because, while it was a good weekend, it was not as good as some Memorial Days past.

Over the course of 3.5 days, I did manage to squeeze in 4 whale watches.  I started on Saturday.  the biggest change in the whale watching scene this year was that the Dolphin Fleet purchased the Portuguese Princess in the off season.  I was curious to see how this would fall out since the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies provided the naturalists on the Portuguese Princess trips and the Dolphin Fleet has their own staff of naturalists.  It was certainly not a question of quality – their naturalists are very good.  But I liked being able to support PCCS by going on “their” whale watches.  

My biggest complaint about the Dolphin Fleet was that they had only 2 boats running and they were unbelievably crowded.  Add strollers and dogs to the masses of people, and it was sometimes a little hard to get around to get a spot at the rail.  I love to take photos and it starts to feel rather competitive since everyone else wants to do the same.  I broached the topic of overcrowding with a few staff over the weekend, on the boats and in the ticket offices, and got somewhat gruff responses.  Only once did someone admit they should have had more boats running.  If I didn’t live 5+ hours away from Provincetown, I might have more opportunities to whale watch from there on non-holiday weekends, but I have to take what I can.

Shockwave 08 calf breachingANYWAY.  Aside from all of that, there were whales!  As would be expected, every trip was different, even in the same day.  On my first trip out, a beautiful sunny day, we were treated to a nice variety of whale “treats”.  We saw a mother and calf (Shockwave and her 08 calf).  The calf gave us some terrific surface displays including breaching.  We also saw a number of other whales including Rune, Fulcrum, and Blackhole, and behaviors included kick and bubble net feeding as well as some flipper slapping.
Went out twice on the following day.  This might have been the most frustrating – and big shot of whales-as-wild-animals-in-their-habitat reality – day.  It took a really long time to find the whales on the morning trip.  The best part of first cruises of the day is the boat tends to be less crowded (and this one was!) but the downside is that those first trips have the task of figuring out where the whales went overnight.  In this case, the whales moved so far north that once we found them, we had only 15 minutes before we had to turn around and go back to Provincetown. I went out again in the afternoon – on a MUCH more crowded boat – and we did have more time with them though they were still pretty far away.   We saw Shockwave and calf again as well as Mural and her calf. Because of the short time with them, I didn’t get a lot of photos that day.

Abundance of sand lance!

My whale watching for the weekend concluded the following day. All told it was a nice trip, though again a crowded boat, with about 7 whales spotted, including a couple of mothers with calves.  Didn’t really see much of any flukes, though for IDs.

I do love whale watching from Provincetown.  I hope that Dolphin Fleet is more prepared in 2009 and offers more boats.

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