Sunday, April 18, 2010
2010 Season begins with a BANG!
12 noon whale watch - Krill Carson:
Today was opening day for whale watching with Capt. John Boats out of Plymouth, MA. As we left the harbor and headed offshore, our spirits were high with anticipation. Our destination on this first trip of the year were the waters of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. These waters are a major feeding area for many different types of large and endangered whales, including humpback whales and finback whales.
When we arrived on Stellwagen bank, we found a group of 20 to 25 humpback whales that were feeding near the surface. Most of the groups were small in size and included no more than 3 to 4 individual animals. At one point, two humpback whales surfaced to feed right off the bow of our boat. Our passengers were treated to amazing views as the bubbles from the animal's bubble cloud rose to the surface just off the bow.
One of the individuals in this pair was a whale named Buzzard. Using photo-identification techniques for over 30 years has allowed biologists and scientists to identify individual animals and track them over the course of their lifetime. Buzzard is a male humpback whale that was born into this population and returns each year to feed in our productive waters. Buzzard was born in 2000 to a mother named Reflection.
Joining us offshore was a group of 8th grade students from Birmingham, Alabama. These students were from the J.H. Phillips Academy. Students and teachers commented on the seasonally warm weather we were experiencing for the month of April. And they were astonished to see that a small group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were feeding with their larger cousins, the humpback whale.
At times, there was so much feeding activity that it was difficult to know where to look around the vessel. And at one point it seemed that one of the humpback whales that was kick feeding next to the boat got our passengers wet on purpose. As we drifted in the area of the feeding whales, two individuals surfaced right under the bow (front of the boat) as they continued to chase the bait below.
One special sighting was a humpback whale named Bayou. This whale had recently been hit by a boat and sustained severe tail injuries. Luckily, these injuries have healed nicely even though much of the right side of her tail is missing. These types of injuries are a stark reminder as to the many dangers that these animals face when they feed in our waters.
All of us will remember this very exciting and special trip. Watching these amazing and endangered marine mammals reminds us of how special New England and Plymouth truly are. For in less than 45 minutes you can be offshore viewing these very large and endangered animals.
So we hope you will have the opportunity to join us offshore sometime this season. You don't want to miss the whales and all the excitement. See you soon!