Despite the looming fog on Saturday morning (May 21), fourteen of us boarded a school bus in front of the WM at 8:00 am to be deposited at Captain John and Sons Whale Watch in Plymouth, for a 9:00 am departure. Three others met us there. We were greeted by my longtime friend and colleague, Carol ‘Krill’ Carson, from Bridgewater State University, as well as New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance volunteers Leah Horeanopolous (creator the logo for this year’s Natl Marine Educators Association conference) and Christopher – last name unknown to me. Within a few minutes we were on our way. We later found Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society colleagues Monica and Lydia in the bridge, preparing for their data collection.
Nine of the twelve Museum Apprentices were part of this group, along with two siblings. Of these eleven teens, only two had been on a whale watch. One of those was too young to remember. So, there was much anticipation, and much hoping that the fog would dissipate.
As it turns out, we would only see one large whale, but we got to spend several minutes with it. It was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) named Loon, which had first been seen in the mid-1970s. We got great looks at her broad back, distinctively nicked up dorsal fin and could see and hear her breathe through her enormous blowholes. As much as we would have enjoyed seeing a greater number of whales, getting this close to an endangered species was a special experience.
Not to be overlooked, several harbor porpoises were seen on both the outgoing and incoming trips. Bird life included northern gannet, Wilson storm-petrel, sooty shearwater, common loon and a bedraggled parula warbler. We were greeted by sunlight as we returned to the dock.
Thank you to the CJB crew, NECWA, our friends at WDCS for setting up the trip and to all of those who attended. If you’d like to see pics from the trip, visit the CJB blog.