1986 First Meeting with Talon 7/9/16 #1

1986 7-9 Talon16
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
The day before had been a bust, it had been choppy and windy, the chop making it hard to see the whales bodies at the surface and the wind dispersing the "blows" that helped us find them. We had only been able to find one big finback and a minke but both species are very fast and neither of these whales were interested in spending time with us. So we were pretty discouraged when we went out the next day and saw only minkes and finbacks again.

But the wind was still and the seas calm so we were suddenly able to see two humpback blows way off to the east, and started working our way towards them. By the time we got to there, we were east of Jeffrey's ledge in deep water (600 feet, as opposed to 70-100 feet on the ledge). Most of the time whales would be on top of the ledge or "inside" in the deep water on the west side of the ledge.

A ledge plays an important role in enriching the whole food chain because the nutrients on the bottom, dragged along by tides and currents, hit the ledge and are brought up to the surface where phytoplankton can use them. Phytoplankton need sunlight so the nutrients are only useful to them if they are near enough to the surface for sunlight to penetrate. When this happens the zooplankton eats the phytoplankton, the copepods eat the zooplankton, the baleenwhales and fish eat the copepods and on up it goes... like the song about "the hip bones connected to the etc." It is truely a great web.

It took us 15 minutes or so to get to the two humpbacks who were diving and surfacing in sync the whole time we watched. They were staying underwater for 7-10 minutes then lying at the surface breathing for 4 or 5 minutes (a pretty typical feeding pattern). One never really fluked so we couldn't identify it with certainty and the other .... well there was that white zipper pattern on her dorsal barely visible in the glare ... Talon! It was the first time I had seen her so I did not know until I got home that this was a well known favorite amongst whale watch boats.