Grand Oak Blog

11 Aug

Whale Watching

As of last Sunday we had no one booked to stay at our place on Wednesday (yesterday), so we blocked all the rooms, and planned to go whale watching. I went in June with Frietzen and her friend Maggie, but we saw nothing and were given free passes to go another time. We have heard great reports from many of our guests of the whales they had seen (although not from everyone)so we thought we would go while Frietzen was still here.
The weather was fine at home, mostly sunny with some cirrus clouds. We went to Brier Island, to go with Brier Island Whale and Bird Watching Tours. We had to go past Digby, and drive down the Digby Neck, to a ferry at East Ferry. They ferry goes once an hour on the half hour. It is a ten minute ferry ride. We crossed over the Petit Passage to Tiverton on Long Island, and drove the 16 kilometers to Freeport. Taking another ferry, we crossed the Grand Passage to Westport, and checked in.
While we were waiting for our departure we saw a grey seal in the harbour, pretty close to us.
As our tour boat went out, we saw quite a few black porpoises, in groups of two, three, or four. That was pretty nice. Within fifteen minutes we had already seen more than the last time.
Our captain took us out into the Bay of Fundy, and headed towards two other tour boats. We were still quite a ways away, when we could see whales by them, jumping, and splashing. We were getting excited. Before we got there we saw some other whales, humpbacks, in another place, so we went in that direction. We couldn’t get close, but we saw two or three whales. When they surface they blow air out of their blowholes. They are exhaling, and the warm air in their lungs condenses when it hits the cold air outside, so we see a spout of mist. That is how we spot them at a distance. When they spouted close by and wind blew toward us, we could smell their bad breath. It was foul.
When they swim or dive they propel themselves with their tail, called a fluke. When they swim they surface to breathe and we can see the dorsal fin and the curved back. When they dive we can see the back, curving downward, and just before they go down, the fluke flips up, and is visible above the water. It is pretty fantastic.
We followed them around for a while and then our captain took us about fifteen minutes away, towards another tour boat. When we got there we had the show of our lives.
There were three whales, two females and one male. One of the females was named Clipper. Part of her dorsal fin was shaped like the outie on a jigsaw puzzle piece. Her fluke was approximately twenty feet across, the same width as our boat. The other female was named Vector. She had a very large scar across the top of her back, in front of her dorsal fin, from a collision with a boat. They were playing in the water, slapping their pectoral fins, and spouting and diving. The male, whose name was not known, was getting too aggressive with the females, so they chased him off. Clipper came up from below and surfaced with a roll of her body, and slapped her tail at the male. She did this several times, and then he moved away a bit. The two females were slapping their tails, and flipping and slapping their pectoral fins, spouting and diving. It was spectacular. After a while they went a ways away, and were just cruising (probably resting).
Then the male came back to the boat. Radar showed that he was below the boat, so we all rushed to the sides. I was up on the second level, and saw him below, and watched him surface right beside the boat. He rolled in the water, and showed us the underside of his pectoral fins. They are about fifteen feet long, and white on the bottom. Then he crossed under the boat, and came up on the other side.
It was all very exciting, and very special. It seemed as though they were playing, and showing off.
Finally, after a while, they turned away, and swam off into the sunset. We cheered and waved goodbye. What a great day!
I want to post some pictures, but am having technical difficulties, which I hope to resolve soon. Meanwhile, you can go on Facebook, and check out Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises, and look at the August 10, 2016 photo album,

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