Naturalists Notes 11-6-17
November 6, 2017
Our noontime survey aboard the M/V Salacia was initiated with a sighting of two associated Humpback whales adorned in scars along their dorsal flanks. The cavernous color of their expansive husks was as dark to us as were the stories of their past, and no secrets were regaled as they descended on 12 minute dives. Our naturalist peers, the Lauras, were able to identify these two rorquals as Kohoutek and Samara, by their gnarly scars alone. A nearby Harbor seal remained at the surface while supping upon an unfortunate Rock bass, but our own appetites demanded sustenance on curiosities. Thus we made for the far northeast, where an experience proved quite palatable.
A pendulum of grand scale swung across the axis of the horizon, and on approach this was indeed the tailstock and fluke of a Humpback whale named Pinball. This mature female rolled from left to right, displaying the pigmentations of both flippers and sides of her fluke. The lass was keen on approaching our pulpit (dare I say “chasing”?), negating any notion of active engagement on our part! A bout of tail breaching was followed by a musical refrain of flipper slaps, but these were muted by two exaggerated fluking dives of several minutes.
This encounter was enthralling for our particular company as this dame of breeding age has been encountered in Bar Harbor and the West Indies, and encounters with her on Stellwagen Bank have proved inconstant. As a naturalist one may find difficulty in identifying seldom seen mysticetes, but from my own scientific illustrations of tails of Stellwagen, we were able to identify Pinball promptly. Each fluke pattern is truly unique, and Captain Matt was accurate in stating that each Humpback whale is like a snowflake. We were chuffed to be introduced to this leviathan, and may the final moments of the feeding season be as emotionally arresting!
Periscope Down, Richard W Dolan