Monday, August 8, 2011

Whales: Heads and Tails - Part One

I have mentioned my whale watching experience at Cape Spear on August 1, 2011 several times now. That's because it is a big deal, what I saw that morning was a very big deal. There were at least 100 whales going in both directions doing what whales do for the three hours that I stood enthralled.

They were close, really close. I cringed as this little boy moved down to the water's edge to get up close and personal with these huge creatures. These whales in the picture were not nearly the closest ones.
 This was my first time to get a good look at the head, even the eye of a whale. In order to photograph them with their head above water, I had to study them a bit to learn their pattern of movement so that I could anticipate when they would surface. After a while I got pretty good at it.
We are very rich here in Newfoundland. The world market may be in the tank but that is not the real source of wealth. It is really all about life's experiences that stick with you. This is one of those very rich life experiences. I watched as this whale moved in very close to shore as if putting on a show by design. I can see its heart through its eye.
Sun has been more rare than whales this year but on this morning, the sun dawned, the winds dropped and the show began.  The sun created a shimmering, glimmering effect all across the water and on the wet skin of the whales. Not even shooting into the sun could taint this experience.

 Some of the whales would move by fairly quickly and others would stop just below my viewing area and begin to feed. They would stay for quite some time, giving me an opportunity to really look them over. I was really surprised to see how thick the head is.
 In this shot(filled with glare) the small fish have spilled out of the whale's  mouth to the right of the head.
Then the biggest surprise of all came. This great specimen threw back its head and swallowed, I guess, giving me the opportunity to get a look at the size of its tongue. Where can you ever see this sight in such a natural setting!
Before leaving, it rolled over on its side and bid farewell before diving and moving on.
This shot is a bit of a mystery. Is it a head or a tail?  I have two shots of this image but neither give a clear view.  This seems to be too thick for a tail so my best guess is that the whale has rolled over, upside down, and opened its mouth.

I had spectacular views steadily for three hours straight before I felt I should go and be productive at something. Oh, I forgot to mention...there were also dolphins swimming and chattering farther off shore.

People in the know suggest that the bad weather that we have had may keep the small fish in shore for another week before they move on. Where there are easily accessible fish, there are whales. The next few days may offer some great "looks" before we have to wait another year. Once the whales are all gone it is looking likely that some late season icebergs may move into the area.

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