August 1, 2021
A few years ago, several members of our family went on a cruise along the inside passage to Alaska. If you have been on a cruise (this was our first) you know there are several stops on the way to your final destination. You can explore the small towns or if you choose, in some ports, you can walk on a glacier, take a guided tour, whale watch and much more. My husband asked what my top thing to do while in Alaska and it was two-fold. I wanted to see whales and of course I had to stop at a local yarn shop, already located at one of our stops! I mean, how often do you get a chance to get Alaskan wool?
Well, the yarn shop was expensive, but I did make a small purchase! The whales? That was somewhat of a letdown. Our guide was knowledgeable and the trip out and back was smooth but mostly uneventful. Seems we were there at the wrong time of the year. We did see a couple of whale tails, but that was it. Didn’t see any polar bears either, which might have been a good thing depending on how close they were!
According to my research, August was a good time for viewing humpback whales along the eastern seaboard. This is because they were making their way north from the equator in favor of colder waters for their yearly mating season. The north Atlantic Ocean is believed to be home to some 12,000 humpbacks, the season was right and the skies were clear. Still on my bucket list, I wanted to see whales. We believed our chances were very good, and we were not disappointed.
Our adventure started at Newburyport MA, about 15 minutes from Rose Beach RV Park, our home for the week. The air was cool, clear and full of anticipation. The trip out past port into “whale” waters was about 45 minutes. It wasn’t long until we were accompanied by Harbor Porpoise. We were told by our guides, to start watching for whales for porpoises will often hang out where whales have been for the food they leave behind. Sure enough, it wasn’t long until we sighted our first whale, and then another and another and …well you get the idea. Today was a very good day for whale watching. We were even fortunate to catch a couple whales taking a short nap – called logging.
Some fun facts about humpback whales.
- Females are larger and heavier than males
- The whale tail is similar to our fingerprints. Each tail is different and is helpful in identifying returning whales.
- Only male whales sing and it lasts for about 20 minutes. The purpose is unknown.
- They can live up to 100 years, are up to 52 feet long and can weigh up to 44 tons.
- Humpbacks can dive or swim below surface around 30 minutes before coming up for air. Because they are mammals, they do not have gills like fish. They are air breathers and the “blow” is exhalation.
- When sleeping, (see photos below) also called logging, the whale is only semi-sleeping. This is so that they can continue to breathe. If they were sleeping soundly and started sinking, they would drown.
Photos by David Christiansen
Were witches REALLY in Salem? Find out what the historians say….you may be surprised. Coming up in our next post.