rescued the swimmers in New Zealand (probably common dolphins). But it is a close relative and I wanted to show my appreciation as best I could.
I think dolphins do this more often than we know....A sailor friend of mine heard of a man who fell overboard while at the helm... his friends searched desparately for him when they found he was missing. A group of dolphins came to the boat and acted very insistent, not the usual gleeful bowriding ... they finally decided to follow the dolphins to their friend .... never never would have found him on their own!!
I was both worried and curious about her response so I sat with her on the ride home and heard her story. A couple of years before, a humpback had beached on Cape Cod. It was still struggling to breath and people came from all around, at first just to see such a huge creature washed ashore.
She described how people began to empathize and were at a loss what to do. They got buckets and hauled water from the ocean, they soaked their beach towels to protect the whale's sensitive skin and keep it cool. Its struggle to breath became more intense, its lungs and internal organs slowly crushed by its own weight. People sang and talked to it, staying with it late into the night. It finally died and they all felt sad and helpless.
Our encounter with Fissure was a gift. She was soaking in all his energy and aliveness.
Fissure spent a LONG time like this, turning slightly one way and then the other. We were all reaching out to him, waving, shouting ... you know.... all the weird things humans do when we get excited. He must have found us quite amusing..... we were the whale watchers being watched. It was an interesting sensation.
A bit of poetic liscense was used in the sequencing but all these pictures were taken on the same day... "never let the facts get in the way of a good story"
It is thought that whales use what scientists call "bubble clouding" to confuse the small schooling fish that Humpbacks feed on. The fish clump and flee the bubble, forming a delectible mouthful for the whale to scoop up. In the Pacific, humpback whales are known for making bubble nets, a ring of small bubbles that look like a cyclone as they rise to the surface. Atlantic humpbacks blow these clouds. It would be fascinating if the Atlantic and Pacific groups learned the others techniques.
His upper jaw is closest to us and his eye would be just about where the swirl of water is.. right near where his mouth ends.
He dove ... we could see his dark shape and the brilliant white of his flippers as he passed under us and disappeared into depths beyond visibility.......
Everyone ran pounding over to that side. Since it was mid-September there was plenty of room at the rail, but unfortunately kids were in school and there were very few to see this.
I am not sure how he got the scar on his dorsal, but we used it that summer to make the initial identification and then confirmed it when he fluked and showed his tail. If you look at the last two photos, you can see the difference between the pattern on his tail and on Olympias.
Suddenly Olympia slapped her tail on the surface of the water with an explosive whack! It was a total surprise and all we could figure was she was alerting Fissure (or us?) that she had had enough and was heading off to feed.
Two of those (Anchor born 1983 and Cascade born 1987) had calves of their own making Olympia a grandmother! Anchor's calf was born in 1990 (when she was 7), and Cascade's was born in 1996 (when she was 9).
There was no evidence that Fissure was related to Olympia in anyway, they just seemed to be enjoying each others company, diving in sync for over an hour. When she made a deep dive we suspected she was going to leave us.
It was hard to chose which to focus on, but when we came to the closest, we recognized it was a well known adult female named Olympia. When she dove we went to the other and sure enough it was Fissure. While watching Fissure, Olympia came over to join him (and us), the two dove in unison, came up close together and circled the boat.
Fissure's dorsal is the closest, Olympia is behind him.