Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday June 13

Could we be lucky enough to find whales close to home again? Apparently yes. In total we saw 8 Minke whales and a Fin whale, with the majority of those whales being less than 5 miles from home! Most of the Minke whales were circling about popping up here and there and giving everyone some nice looks at these whales. 
Minke whale

If you look closely you can see Whaleback and Portsmouth Harbor Light beyond this Minke whale. Now that's close to land!
It also turned out that the same Fin whale we saw yesterday was once again spending time close to land; thanks to Atlantic Queen II for spotting this low profile whale today. This whale was also darting around but never moving too far in any particular direction while we were in the area. 
White Island and a Fin whale
Perhaps the most surprising surfacing from this whale was when it surfaced just off the front of the boat lunging through the water on its side attempting to catch lots of fish! What an awesome sight to see especially for our school kids who happened to be standing on the pulpit. Nothing like watching one of the world's second largest animals on the planet charge past them in the midst of a feeding bout.

The pointy flipper of this Fin whale can be seen just above the heads of the children!
As exciting as it is seeing all this activity just offshore it is also an extremely nerve-wracking event. Not only does there tend to be more boat activity just off the coast (and potential higher chance of injury to whales due to boat propellers of all sizes!) but have you ever seen how much fishing gear is just off the coast of New England? Buoys marking traps with line running from the surface to the bottom of the ocean is a major threat to all whales. These lines can easily get tangled on a whale as the whales move through the water. Since these animals are so focused on chasing down food, and with the water being so murky, the whales really do not "see" these potential hazards. Whales can get entangled in gear and can cause injuries, infections, life-long problems, and even death due to entanglements in all types of fishing gear. Granted all whales and all gear are susceptible to this kind of interaction but the probability grows when a whale is in an area with lots of gear: aka. typically close to shore. So let us all think good thoughts that whales everywhere (whether near land or miles offshore) continue to swim freely as they try avoid all kinds of threats out in the open ocean.

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