Monday, April 21, 2008

The Right Whales Dine in Provincetown

We've come to Provincetown, MA, just to see the whales. Especially the
rare right whale. About a third of the world's population of right
whales have come to Provincetown to feed. It's an unusual occurrence.
And, boy, what a show.

We arrive early in the morning, at high tide, and watch finbacks arch
over the water's surface, feeding on an unusually large run of fishies
(we don't know what kind). The humpbacks leap upwards, then splash
down, banging their mighty tails on the surface. We see three, four,
five spouts of water all at once, then whales arch over the water or,
infrequently, leap into the air.

But we see no right whales.

Until just now.

It's evening, and the sun's to set in about an hour. First we see a
gazillion birds clouding over the sea ... and then we see why. Large
water spouts ("Thar she blows!") precede, almost announcing the
presence of three, four even five right whales. When their massive
heads break the surface, they hover there for a minute, and the birds
benefit from the flows of discarded fish and other sea creatures
spilling out of those massive mouths.

Then, the rare mammals dive straight down, flipping their tails
upwards, so the last thing we see are the tail fins pointed skyward.
Wow.

Then the whole dance is repeated, time and time again. We are
exhausted following the antics, watching the water spouts, the birds
diving, the whales hovering, then flipping their tails.

Now it's nighttime and the sea is calm and dark. I wonder ... do
whales feed at night?

(The picture of Allen watching the whales shows the beach at Herring
Cove after a work crew using a payloader on steroids reclaimed the
sand winter's storm blew across the parking lot. We watched them work,
so it wasn't too awful to sit in the mess. It'll all be smoothed over
by the next storm.)