Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Mammals

OK, so I didn't get the garden post (on mulch!) finished yet.  How far along am I?  Well, I've picked a topic.  Yes, that's all - no need for sarcasm!  I am a fly by the seat of the pants blogger.  You want pre-planning, rewrites and dedication go somewhere else.  This blog is just for kicks.

We had some friends come in to the Boston area this weekend.  The guy (he's not a man - I've known him since high school, man sounds so, so, grown up!) is a big fan of whales so we went on a whale watching trip out of Gloucester.  The seas were a bit, um, challenging.  The ride out felt more like a roller coaster than a boat.  But it was worth it!  I got not one, not two but THREE new species of mammals (first time I've seen the species).  That's quite a feat for me.  I haven't gotten that kind of a New Mammal count since I went to Africa.

On the ride out we spotted a pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus arcutus).  These are a northern species of dolphin and this pod had several babies along side.

Dolphins are hard to photograph - I dare you to do better (in four foot seas!).

That's better.

That was new mammal species number one.

We did slow for one Humpback on the ride out.  But humpback whales are common off the coast of Massachusetts in the summer so we didn't stay long.  I think the crew had a clue there was something really interesting out there.

Trident, the humpback whale, one of only three humpbacks seen on this trip.
 The under tail markings help the crew to identify the individual humpbacks.

Then there were the Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis).  These are 64 foot long whales, not commonly found by whale watching groups.  I got good looks but not good pictures.  Did I mention the rough seas?

Notice the different style of exhale (blow)

That was new mammal species number three.

What?  I skipped one?  That's because I wanted to save the best, the rarest, for last.

New Mammal Species Number Two

The North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis).


Notice the unmarked underside of the tail and the smooth edges.  Those help to identify this species but not the individual.  NA Right Whales are highly protected and in US waters whale watching boats are not allowed to knowingly approach these whales.  I think our crew knew they were in the area, though.  They also knew about the Sei whales which aren't nearly so endangered but are not that commonly seen by local whale watching boats.

NA Right whales were nearly hunted to extinction (they were the "right" whales to hunt) and now number around 400 world wide.  We saw four of them.  How often do you get to see 1% of the population of a species and how sad is it to see 1% of the populations of a species.

On the ride back we spotted Trident again and she played with us - she kept diving under the boat causing the whale watchers to dart from one side of the boat to the other.

I got some very, very close up shots.  That's her blow hole.  Too close in for my camera lens to focus.

OK.  I really do have some ideas for future blog posts that have to do with gardening.  Really, I do.  Unless I find something else really cool to blog about first.  I haven't seen the neighborhood Fisher yet....

Boston from near Gloucester Harbor.


  1. WOW that was worth the dramamine. Too bad no pictures for the flora and fauna (sea weed).

  2. Once, we were in Gordon's Bay, cars had stopped everywhere, and we heard the whales sing. About 30 years ago, never forgotten ...

  3. I'm glad you got to see so many creatures on your whale-watch. I went on one in Hawaii, years ago, and not a single mammal showed up.

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