Naturalists Notes 11-25-17
November 25, 2017
Today’s visit to the sanctuary was nothing short of extraordinary. We made it just off the coast of when two humpbacks made their appearance, one of them staying slightly hidden taking long dives. I quickly snapped photos to ID him/her, but there was someone else who vied heavily for our attention.
The second humpback made a sluggish, gradual movement to the surface and I thought that perhaps it was enjoying a snooze underneath the bright sunlight. How thrilled was I to realize I was wrong and come to understand that the whale was thinking about its next move, which was to inspect the Salacia and its passengers for the next 75 minutes. It swam slowly just under the surface- for almost the entire time we could track the whale by the glowing green color generated by the bright white pectoral flippers. The anticipation was well worth it as the whale would spend minutes upon minutes drifting just within our sight parallel until it would make sharp turns. Over and over it approached the vessel head on, lifting its head and sidling up close. Today’s whale watch took on a cozy, intimate feeling, and I can think of no better way to have spent an afternoon.
The photos from today reflect the proximity of which we enjoyed so much. Look closely at the structure of the blowholes, including the submerged V-shaped structure of the whale’s blowholes in the middle- they close reflexively as they submerge after exhaling and that tight seal prevents water from entering and making its way to the lungs. Also notice the scars on the tail stock and the bowed shape of the fluke- I am wondering if perhaps this was one of the whales recently disentangled thanks to the efforts of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team hailing from the Center for Coastal Studies.
Enjoy! Laura L.