Monsters of the Deep
There are many things in the world that we ‘know about’ but perhaps find hard to really believe, if we haven’t actually seen them with our own eyes. In this class you might consider the 1st landing on the moon; the size and power of Victoria Falls, the vast amounts of wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater or in the Serengeti; or the incredible turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as a good friend mentioned. For me the monstrous marine mammals that can dwarf a double decker bus have always seemed hard to credit – how come we never see them when gazing out to sea? Why do we never see them when flying over oceans?
Well this year changed that. Visiting New England, we eagerly signed up for a whale watching tour from Provincetown near the tip of Cape Cod. This goes out to the Stellwagen Bank, a well known feeding ground for whales. While enjoying the trip and scenery, we were still not sure what, if anything in the whale family, would be seen, when the shout went up for a sighting of Minke whales.
Well that was me happy but the show was only starting!
We could see them at close quarters, rolling over and bashing the water with their white fins.
We even witnessed a great display of a calf breaching over and over again while the mother repeatedly slapped the water with the full force of her tail.
The idea of being beside one of these lovely monsters in the water is at the same time alluring and frightening – one slight flick of fin or tail would curtail your birthdays. Even their blowholes (seems to be a dodgy word for nostrils:), seen up close, are huge.
I think the the most magical sight of all though, was their ‘leave-taking’ tail wave.
Before and as they dive out of sight, Humpbacks slowly raise their tails in a languid curved motion. When the tail reaches near vertical it cuts down smoothly into the dark sea.
We saw this graceful wave goodbye many times but never got tired of it.