Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whale + Bird Watching

At work on the 12th I all of a sudden decided that I was going to treat myself to a whale watch the next day. So, I did. I went with the same company I went with last summer, Seven Seas Whale Watch out of Gloucester. Last summer I was brand new to birding, this summer I have at least a year under my belt, so I had a better idea of what I was looking for. I realize that a year isn't a terrific amount of time, especially if you've been birding for most of your life, but I learned a tremendous amount in that 12 months!
The day brought 4 lifers:
  • Wilson's Storm-petrel
  • Leach's Storm-petrel
  • Greater Shearwater
  • Sooty Shearwater
I couldn't manage a picture of the Wilson's, but I definitely saw the straight-across tail with the legs projecting beyond it. As for the whales, we saw three Humpbacks known as Cajun, Pinpoint, and Crown. We also got two brief looks at a Minke Whale, but when I say "brief", I mean brief. If you've never been on a whale watch before, I highly recommend it. Also for those of you who have never been, you may not be familiar with the way naturalists catalog and identify the whales they come across.

Humpback whales : fluke patterns :: humans : fingerprints
Every individual humpback whale has a unique pattern on it's fluke, and naturalists photograph and catalog the patterns. Then they can record sightings of individual whales and track their movements to some extent. After years of studying the whales, naturalists and marine biologists can easily recognize a whale's distinct fluke pattern--that's how we knew which whales we were seeing, thanks to our on-board naturalist, that is. Apparently the dorsal fin of a humpback whale is also a good identification tool for individuals.

Here are some more pictures from the day's trip:

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.


  1. Whoa, I wish I could just decide to go on a whale-watch trip and be out at sea the next day. You're lucky.
    Thanks for sharing your exciting pictures. I only once saw a single Greater Shearwater and think they are particularly neat seabirds.
    Congrats on what must have been a good day for sure.

  2. Never been whale watching but I plan on it!

  3. Amanda, it seems you're a blog slacker :))

  4. I am SUCH a blog slacker, it's true.

  5. Howdee..
    Catching up on your blog....
    Congrats on the Lifers!
    What a great trip that was..lots of good birds and whales.
    And some nice pics to boot!
    Hope the summer is treating you well!