We had a lot of fun on our Whale Watch Cruises this past weekend. Here are just some of the highlights:
- We watched a Humpback surface just 50 feet from our boat during Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise. When a whale chooses to spout that close-by, we can hear both her exhalations AND her inhalations — never fails to give us “chicken skin”. Later in the cruise we watched a Mom/Baby/Escort pod. Baby was clearly interested in us, and Mom allowed him to approach as close as 50 yards. We didn’t see a lot of the escort (in fact, at first, we didn’t even know he was there) but when he did surface, we realized he was a big, big whale. When we deployed the hydrophone during that cruise. we heard some incredible sounds.
- On Saturday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise we found ourselves sandwiched between Humpbacks. The Humpback about 150 yards off our bow breached 10 times in a row before tail lobbing about 15 times. Meanwhile a pod of 2 Humpbacks approached our stern, and one of them tail lobbed about 30 times (we lost count). Those of us on the boat didn’t know which way to look or where to stand…we spent a lot of time walking very quickly from the back of the boat to the front, and from the front of the boat to the back. Later in the cruise a Mom/Baby pod approached us. Mom was pretty permissive and let her little calf investigate us from just about 20 feet away (of course, she was right there too, investigating us while protecting her baby).
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: When you see the spout from a whale, you’re actually looking at an interesting combination of things. Some of what you’re looking at is condensation from the whales’ lungs (the same thing you’re looking at when you see your own breath after exhaling in a cold environment); some is atomized ocean water (Humpbacks live in a wet world, and there’s always some of the ocean pooled on top of their blow holes when they surface); and…since Humpbacks don’t have cilia in their respiratory tracts (little hairs)…a lot of what you see (and occasionally feel) is actually mucus! And though it may sound kind of yucky, researchers in the last couple of years have been using drones they call “SnotBots” to fly over spouting whales to collect mucus samples. Since mucus contains DNA, hormones and bacteria, the samples can be analyzed to determine the whale’s health, stress levels, and even pregnancies. Click here to learn more about “SnotBots”.