Updated: Sep 28, 2022
People want to know what I do. Here's a favorite . Every year that I am in New Hampshire when my birthday rolls around, I head to Barnstable or Provincetown for whale-watching. It's my birthday present to myself. There's no better place to be than with these incredible beings. Sunday, September 18, did not disappoint. My heart is full and tears are welling up as I recall the spectacle our cetacean friends put on last Sunday.
The day began with lots of turkeys and a gorgeous bear. Yes, a bear! And then...and then...oh my! The day at the Cape was brighter, partially sunny unlike in the photo above. The wind was a blowing. And the sea quite choppy. But it was relatively warm. Glory hallelujah! One hour out we encountered the humpbacks just off of Race Point, Provincetown, Massachusetts. We did not have to continue on to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which is the renowned summer feeding grounds for the whales. Along with two other whale watching boats that were a good distance away from our boat, we were surrounded by between 40 and 60 humpbacks. That, in itself, was astounding! The marine biologist on our boat was beside himself with excitement! We were too! There were so many, the crew could not give a definitive number of sightings.
It's rare to see so many whales together. We were in 360 degree surround, whale spouting going off all around our three-boat triangular formation. Everyone could see the whales as they dined away and performed dramatic tail slaps, rolls and magnificent breaches with great momentum. Usually, if fortunate, visitors get to witness one or two bubble-netting events. It's a fishing method that the whales employ. They dive down into the briny deep, working collaboratively as they circle to corral fish into a net of bubbles by exhaling out their blowholes. You cannot miss bubble-netting. The water, full of air, turns a light Caribbean blue. The open-mouthed pod you see in the photo above are eating after employing this method. Balleen, the filtration system inside the mouths of these toothless whales, separates the food while the whales push the filtered water out. We saw so many bubble-netting events I really cannot give you a number.
Needless to say there was a lot of excitement-human and whale excitement. We watched as calves maneuvered into feeding position. Checking which breast was full of milk, they dropped into position beside their mothers who then expressed the precious elixir into their mouths. Whales continued to completely circle the boats. Others moved within the circle, some coming right up to and also swimming under our boat.
We even witnessed whale poop! As many times as I have done whale watches, never have I seen whale poop. Watery, unmissable brown, it looks like the Rio Negro as it blends with the mighty Amazon River. The excrement, consumed by smaller marine creatures, like phytoplankton, helps to keep the ocean healthy.
And then, the shift in energy became palpably noteworthy. They were sated, we were too. The silence was profound. Deeply moving, in fact. It seemed that these majestic Earth Knowledge Keepers and Earth Healers had accomplished their purpose: they brought us from worldly tumult into a state of deep stillness. We were all entirely blessed. I can assure you that the peacefulness continues to be a felt sensation. Grateful I certainly am!
(c) Barbara J. Woolley, author, Sunday, September 25, 2022.