Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Morning with the Whales

(c)2008 ShootingMyUniverse

Living in Gloucester, it is easy for us to hop a whale boat. This morning, we went out on the Privateer IV. If you have never been, you should. This time of year, the seas are generally fairly calm. All of the whale watch companies here in Gloucester do a good job.

We were uncertain about the weather. Fog was in the forecast. This can limit visibility but the company we use guarantees sightings. Today they really came through. We saw lots of behaviors; fin slapping, whales rolling over on their backs, mothers with calves, breaching and lots of flukes.

The Gloucester boats go out to the Stellwagen Bank located in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. These photos were all taken this morning. The naturalists will often be able to identify the individual whales by the white patterns on their flukes. Therefore it is possible to identify and track the adult whales that appear in these photos. One of our whales seen today is known as Cajun.

These humpback whales are wild animals, yet they are not bothered by the boats and quite often approach the boats. In this case, we had a group of two mothers and two calves that we observed. They seemed to enjoy going under the boat which I’ve never experienced before. The boat gently rocked a good 10 degrees.

Each of the boats that go out of Gloucester has a naturalist on board from the Whale Center of New England. The naturalist provides information about what is going on and also records the whale sightings. It is estimated that the humpback population is at 35,000 animals, 10% of their original population. High resolution files are available for scientific and not-for-profit organizations. Contact me for details.

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