Monday, August 15, 2016

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The marine life on Cape Cod is bountiful.  I have been on dozens of whale watches in my life and I cannot imagine a trip more magical than the one we took this year.  We always cruise with Dolphin Fleet What Watches.  On board is a naturalist and over the years, I will admit that I don’t often listen because I have seen and heard most of it before.  However this year....oh my, I was glad to have her on board.

Earlier that morning our families visited Race Point beach and as we were walking down to the water we could see the water spouts from the beach!  It was thrilling to see whales this close to shore.  There was also a huge seal and we were on the lookout for fins, since great white sharks have frequented these waters this summer and summers past.  My Aunt gave the girls binoculars a few years ago as a Christmas present and we always keep one pair in the car.  They come in so handy for moments like these.  

I could not identify the whale we saw but as we cruised by the beach we were on, the naturalist pointed to the same group of whales we saw earlier and identified them as fin whales.  They are graceful swimmers and I could sit on the beach and watch them for hours.  We stayed at the site for a bit and then cruised on to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, an 842 square mile track of ocean that is part of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and an important feeding ground for the right whale, humpback and finback whale.  

We we told that the humpback whales migrate here (which I already knew) and when they are in the warmer waters of the Caribbean, their behavior is quite different (did not know!).  The water is so clear in the Caribbean because of the lack of phytoplankton, a main food source for the whales.  So during their stay in warmer waters, they do not eat.  When they migrate north to the Gulf of Maine, they eat constantly and put on a great display for spectators!  

I have seen these whales here before but never ever in numbers like this.  I have never seen them swim in pods feeding together.  I have never heard them come out of the water “talking” with each other before and it was truly incredible.

Here is a picture of a shark Lilah spotted, species unknown.

This trip, especially this day, made me realize I am done with iPhone photography.  I am tired of asking the girls for their pictures.  Once upon a time, I loved photography too and I am going back to it.  I don’t need something as technical as Grace’s camera and I am just blown away by what Lilah’s Nikon Coolpix s9900 is capable of.  I know I can’t bring my big dslr around every day, but I can throw Lilah’s camera in my bag every day to capture our teachable moments to post here and on IG.  I’m grateful to my girls for these photos.  


Mother of 3 said...

Wow! That sounds amazing. My boys would love something like this... can't believe I never thought to take them whale watching.

LJS said...

I have been going since I was a young child. I recommend The Dolphin Fleet if you are in MA. We saw another boat, very crowded (in our opinion unsafe) and spewing dark diesel fuel exhaust. We have done dolphin cruises in Florida, other whale watches on the north shore of MA but these are always the best and this one will be hard to beat.

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