2012 June 23, Saturday
Searching for the whale "Dome"
Gulf of Maine, east of Cape Cod
With Tropical Storm Debby threatening our return flight to New Orleans, we were pretty sure this might have to be our last day to fly the Gulf of Maine, or we'd be staying here for the week (which would have been great, but not for our own critters and obligations back in the Gulf of Mexico!). Still, we couldn't justify the cost just to fly out there and take more cool photos. Until the phone call came -- this time a well-known and loved female humpback "Dome" was photographed with fishing gear and netting all over her, and an orange buoy hanging off her side. Rescue boats and crews were mobilized, but they could not find her; could we go help? Of course! But most of the office staff had already left early for weekend whale-watching duties. We needed a good spotter......
It was as if the whales knew they had a very special spectator. The boys (I assume?) were showing off like crazy! Back breaches, side breaches, fin- and tail-slapping, you name it, they were doing it. Even the finback whales seemed to be in finest form today. All of that would have made my day, but we weren't there to photograph the show. We couldn't even take the time to circle twice to catch another breach. As soon as we determined that the whales we were looking at were free of fishing gear, we moved on to the next sighting.
Not long into the flight, Regina started making exclamations I didn't understand. Things like "Oh Sirius, that is Sirius!" ("Am I serious about what, Regina?") "No! The Whale! We haven't seen him yet this year!" I realized that even though I wasn't trying to give her good photographs, she was back there practically hanging out of the windows getting them! And she knew what she was looking at. In only about 45 minutes of my maneuvering the airplane quickly and her clicking her camera madly, Regina had managed to identify eight individual whales, many of which had not been seen yet this year and had become the subject of concern at the WDCS office. "Fulcrum", "Sirius", Putter", "Loon" and "Ventisca", "Anchor", "Abrasion", and "Stub"... When we got back to the office, she proceeded to point them all out to me in the photos, and I will try to show them to you here! But best you ask her sometime...
Read the article and enjoy all the photos here!