March 2 – March 9, 2019
Week Six of our 29th Season
This year Aquatic Adventures embarks on its 29th year of providing our guests the unique opportunity to encounter the North Atlantic humpback whales on their breeding and calving grounds, the Silver Bank. As the season unfolds, we’ll be highlighting some of the various encounters and experiences of our guests and team members from their perspectives. We hope you enjoy following along!
We had a return guest to the Silver Bank this week. Her nickname is Hook, a beautiful humpback whale with dramatic curvature in her dorsal fin and white scarring on the right side of her snout, suggesting that she favors sand lance. A favorite food for humpbacks in the southern Gulf of Maine, sand lance is a fish that resembles a garden eel. They migrate to the shallows at night and burrow into the sediment, where the clever humpback then digs her snout into the sand and lifts them into the water column to eat. We recognized Hook from a few weeks ago when we spent a whole afternoon with her in the water. Her calf, nicknamed Hook Jr. due to also having a significantly hooked dorsal, is a curious individual who likes to push the boundaries. One day, Hook was settled just off the port side of the mothership, allowing us to take turns being in the water with her over and over. Until Hook Jr. took off, eventually separated by 300 feet or more. Suddenly, Hook began tail lobbing and breaching, trying to get her calf to come back to her, but Hook Jr. was clearly having too much fun breaching into the sunset. We kept close to mother, driving alongside her as she made her way back to the calf, and we continued to drive alongside while mother and calf continuously breached in unison, as if there was some altercation between them to be settled. I couldn’t help but shed a tear of joy when all calmed down and Hook Jr. lay on top of Mother just at the surface of the water. Perhaps humanized, but to me, seemingly, a lesson was learned, an apology given and an embrace of forgiveness pursued. It was a gift to watch this interaction and very intimate moment between mother and child.
– Gillian Morin, Aquatic Adventures team member
The week got off to a great start almost immediately getting out onto the Silver Bank. Mothers and calves were plentiful, providing us with lots of opportunity to snorkel with them. At times, a particular mother and calf who we have seen in previous weeks allowed us to act as babysitters. Mom would settle quite shallowly, allowing her baby, who obviously didn’t want to rest, to play around constantly at the surface where we watched. The calf enjoyed spinning and rolling around while also approaching closely to everyone before turning lengthwise to us and start heading back to its mom. Sometimes the calf’s boldness would surprise us, because instead of staying in front of us, it would circle around the group while staring into the eyes of all the snorkelers. The frequent visits from the calf while mom rested was a highlight for many this week.
– Joe Lamontagne, Aquatic Adventures team member
At the beginning of the season we had some very awesome encounters with a particular mom, who we recognized by her distinctly hooked dorsal fin, and her calf. The last couple of weeks she had not been around, but this week she showed up again with her beautiful calf. The calf is also a female and she has really grown, in both size and confidence. In the beginning of the season the calf never strayed far, circling around mom on the surface always while mom rested mid water and always in eye shot. Now her circles around mom’s resting spot have grown quite big, wandering off several hundred feet then back down to mom to rest. It warms my heart when we see a mom and calf later in the season and the calf is larger and stronger in order to make the migration to the north. – Denise Lawrence, Aquatic Adventures team member
The Aquatic Adventures team hopes that you are as inspired as we are to help sustain the humpback whale population. Through our partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies, we are helping to gain critical information on these charismatic creatures, and to seek ways to protect and preserve them. To find out more about this effort, join their mailing list or to make a donation, large or small, please visit: www.coastalstudies.org/aquaticadventures
We are proud to support SeaLegacy in their efforts to create powerful media to change the narrative around our world’s oceans. Their mission is to inspire the global community to protect our oceans. To learn more about SeaLegacy and help with this important mission, please visit: https://www.sealegacy.org
Thanks to all who have generously donated!
Learn more about Aquatic Adventures here.
Written & Edited by: Aquatic Adventures team members
Images: Kai Matthes, Deanne Nezas & Joe Lamontagne