8/31/86 First Meeting with Fissure (page#1)

8/31/86 First meeting- Fissure, Humpback whale

Both the captain and I were new to whale watching and we fumbled at first. He had worked on fishing boats, I had taught school and been an observer on research vessels but had no experience as naturalist on a boat. It was soon clear that the captain's great boat handling skills, friendships with the local fishermen, and affinity with the whales made him a natural. He seemed to know where they would come up next and how to approach without disturbing them. My teaching skills came in handy, but most of all I was totally intrigued by the nature of whales and couldn't wait to go out for the next adventure. There was so much to see and learn. We were a great team!

By the end of that first summer we had a lot of experience under our belt. We had seen many different marine animals: ocean sunfish, basking sharks, tuna, dolphins,seals, finbacks, minkes, right whales and humpbacks. We had seen all kinds of exciting behaviors... tail lobbing, breaching, flipper slapping. And we had begun to identify several individual humpbacks by taking pictures of the bottom of their fluke (tail) and sending them in to be matched at Allied Whale (they house the catalogue of North Atlantic Humpbacks). We felt we had seen just about everything...

It was a flat calm, sunny late August day and we headed out to the North end of Jeffrey's Ledge on the advise of a fisherman who was out there already. We came upon two humpbacks blowing a few hundred yards apart. One turned out to be Notch, a mature whale with a ragged tail that had been seen by various whale watch boats for the last 6 summers. We shut down to drift with Notch for a while, losing track of the second one.