We were greeted by a pod of curious Spinner Dolphins as we left the bay on Monday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise. Though we certainly never want to bother the dolphins when they’re resting after a night of feeding on the weird little squid and fish that migrate vertically in what’s called “the deep scattering layer”, these dolphins heard our boat and came over to see what we were up to. After we watched them riding in our wakes, leaping, and spinning, we left them in search of some other cetaceans.
Throughout the rest of the cruise, we got to see 3 separate pairs of Humpbacks who each surfaced and spouted about 800 yards from us. Those of us looking in the right direction also got to see 3 different breaches (and the resulting splashes) from whales a mile from us. Finally, we all were surprised when a pod of two adult Humpbacks surfaced, spouted several times, and sounded just 150 yards from our boat as we cruised back towards the bay.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Humpback Whales and Spinner Dolphins are actually related — they’re all classified under the scientific order “Cetacean” (derived from the Greek word, “ketos” which translates to “Monster”). But they’re in different sub-orders. Humpbacks are baleen whales, classified in the sub-order called “Mysticete”, while the Dolphins are toothed whales, classified in the sub-order “Odontocete”. For those of you etymologists out there, “Mysticete” either translates from the Greek “mystacoceti” meaning “mustached”, which is a pretty accurate description of how the baleen in these whales’ mouths appears…or is a “mistranslation” from the Latin “Mustiketos” which means “Mouse Whale” — perhaps one of the earliest examples of a scientist (in this case, Aristotle) demonstrating he understood the concept of irony. “Odontocete” shares a common root word with “orthodontist”…and means just what it sounds like — “toothed – whale”.