Tuesday, 31 August 1999

Back on a little boat

Another trip out on a little lobster boat, and more right whales. I can’t believe how many we’ve seen, especially as I’ve learned this week that this is the most endangered species of large whale with only 300 to 400 left on the whole planet!
One more picture of a northern right whale's tail, in slightly choppier seas today.

Monday, 30 August 1999

Paradise is - sitting in a schooner bow, watching whales

A real whale-fest today. In the morning we went out in a different lobster boat which, like the one yesterday, was actually smaller than the 50 to 60 foot right whales we encountered. Then in the afternoon a real treat – we went out on a beautiful schooner. I got myself a place squeezed right in the bow of the ship, so great views, and we saw not only more northern right whales but also fin whales.

More photos of tail flukes – if you love whales you never get tired of seeing that big tail roll out of the water, flip up and then slide back beneath the waves, but only the species with the thickest blubber need to do this (to overcome their buoyancy). Fin whales have (relatively) less blubber and so don’t show their tail flukes when they dive.
The day ended with calm waters and a beautiful sunset.

Sunday, 29 August 1999

My first ever encounters with whales!!

This morning dawned foggy and with only 3 days of whale-watching left, the tension mounted a little as we started to wonder whether we would ever get to out to sea.
However they have a saying here (and I’m sure in many other coastal parts of the world too) “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute”. The fog did eventually lift and we set out on our first whale-watch on board a temporarily-converted lobster-fishing boat (for part of the year when the right whales are around, the lobster fishery has to close down to protect these endangered animals from entanglement, so the more enterprising boat owners scrub up their boats, fit seats and a canopy and take out whale-watchers).
The sea was rough and some people were seasick, but we saw whales! My first sighting was a northern right whale breaching in the distance, but soon we got closer encounters.
Photos of these strange whales can make them look like barnacle-encrusted rocks (their heads are indeed ‘decorated’ with barnacles), but when they dive and lift their tail flukes into the air, they’re more photogenic.

Saturday, 28 August 1999

Fog keeps us on the island

Today was supposed to be our first day of whale-watching, but the island is shrouded in thick fog. I’d been quite prepared to go out and not see whales, but hadn’t really thought about not being able to go out at all. The fog didn’t budge all day, so we went for walks on the island but the only wild mammal we spotted was a North American red squirrel.

Friday, 27 August 1999

My first cetaceans - some of the smallest

A day spent mostly travelling to Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. En route we stopped at a good lookout point on the coast and scanned for whales. I was convinced I saw a ‘blow’ but it was a figment of my overenthusiastic imagination.
On the ferry journey from Blacks Harbour to the island we keep our eyes peeled and I see my first 'cetaceans' (whales, dolphins or porpoises) – some diminutive harbour porpoises.

Thursday, 26 August 1999

How I accidentally started whale-watching

So here’s where it all starts.
A few months ago I decided to book a foreign holiday for the first time in 15 years. I chose a trip to the Rockies with a bit of horse-riding thrown in. Then a couple of months before departure the holiday company contacted me to say that the trip was cancelled – there was not enough demand. I could have a full refund or transfer my deposit to another holiday. So I looked through the brochure and for some reason chose a quite different trip - to the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, including four days of whale-watching.
I’ve never seen a whale before; I’ve never been on a small boat; but here goes.