Archive for October, 2009

October 23rd 2009
Missed whales and dead whales

Posted under misc

It is getting close to the end of October and that means the end of the whale watching season here in the Northeast US. I had hoped to get out one more time before the end, but weather and budget are getting in the way. Sighting reports have dropped as well, so it seems the migration is well under way and it falls to me to bide my time until spring. Makes the news of the return of humpbacks to Hawaii that much more of a siren’s song. One day I will see whales in those waters…

Meanwhile, I shift into more of a mode of watching for stories and reflecting upon them. Which brings me to the dead whales of the post’s title. There’s an interesting story from the UK about a biologist’s experience with trying to learn from the body of a dead whale. As he says, “everybody should watch a whale being dissected – it teaches us about life“. Does make me glad that I made the effort to watch some of the dissection of a fin whale back in May. Gruesome business though it is, seeing these animals so closely adds a whole new dimension to their reality, and reaches people who might suddenly see the beauty of these animals and want to do more to try to save them.

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October 8th 2009
Wherefore Art Thou, Whales?

Posted under whale watches

Eager whale watchers, reflect in the boat's wake.After a nearly 3 month gap since my last whale watch, I was downright itching to go out again and finally made it on Oct. 5. Following the Whale Center and Capt Bill and Sons on Twitter all summer, with numerous updates about spectacular whale watching, just whetted the appetite all the more.

So with reports of great end of season whale watching, I took my mom and two family friends out for their first whale watch, and a friend out for his second. And we got a lesson in the reality that we are indeed entering the natural, wild habitat of the whales and nothing is ever a sure thing. We DID see some whales, specifically Evolution, Ravine, and Lavalier and her calf. But aside from the calf’s giving us one playful belly roll, all were basically just travelling along and not being very surface-active. Just proves that each trip is different, and one never knows what will be seen. We travelled fairly far south along Stellwagen Bank, and the visibility was so spectacular that we could see Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument on the horizon. We just didn’t find a lot of whale activity.

Ravine going down for a dive.Any day on the water is a good day. Any day with whales is even better! I’ve been spoiled by several spectacular whale watches this season so this was a little bit of a let down, especially as a first trip for some of my group. I am hoping to get out at least one more time before the season wraps up, and hopefully there will be some more activity to see. If not, I will just anxiously wait for next year!

Check out the photos – there are not many, but it was a beautiful day for shooting!

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October 7th 2009
Reversing the Bad Numbers, Increasing Good Ones

Posted under news

One of my favorite sites to check for new stories about whales is at the Underwater Times. Today, they posted a story about Britain’s protesting to Iceland about their whaling. Despite a glut of whale meat, Iceland’s government has actually increased the quota of whales allowed to be killed by their whaling fleet. Their intended and actual kills include many endangered fin whales. Because these are the second largest whales in the ocean, they can kill fewer whales and still wind up with more meat than Japan can get by hunting hundreds more of the much smaller minke whales.

But, fewer and fewer people are interested in eating whale meat! I’ve already written about the news that whale watching is actually more profitable (and Iceland’s bizarre response that whaling and whale watching are industries that can grow together). Since whaling IS all about profit, I just can’t wrap my head around why these whaling nations (Iceland, Norway and Japan) don’t understand the bigger numbers they can generate by putting away those harpoons for good.

Killing fewer whales is obviously good – for us, for whales, for the planet. Increasing profit as a result is simply a win-win for everyone, especially when it means that the whales are no longer threatened by commercial whaling.

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