1986 Second Meeting with Talon 9/29/86

By the end of September we were seeing a general movement to the south. Each day we would have to travel further down Jeffrey's ledge to find whales. On September 29th we had to go all the way down to Scantum's ledge (if you click on the map it will take you to a larger version with labels in flickr).

Jeffrey's ledge; Gulf of Maine

It was overcast that day. The air temperature was 61º and the sea temperature was down to 55º but there was no wind so it wasn't really cold. I came to treasure days with no winds and calm seas even more than sunny days since visibility would be ideal without the glare off the water.

As we traveled southeast across Jeffrey's basin, we encountered a lonely harbor porpoise then a blue shark, creatures that would be obscured if there was any chop. Finally, way south of where we usually went, we came upon two humpbacks who I say in my notes were just "breezing though", showing very little interest in interacting with our boat. One of them turned out to be our "friend" FISSURE!

1986 9-29 Fissure

But he and his mystery companion were much more interested in each other than in us. In my notes I say they were "cruising" in sync rather than feeding. They would dive together remaining down for about 7 minutes and then come up to breathe for about 2 minutes, heading steadily westward. If they had been feeding we figured their movements would be more erratic and dives deeper (bringing up their flukes). You can see from this photograph why his companion remained a mystery...

A fluke matchers nightmare

For every good fluke shot I took, at least 50 would come out like this... to far away and to blurry to match in the Humpback Catalogue. "Fluke matchers" try hard to find enough in these photos to indentify a whale but it is like squeezing water from a stone and we groan when these photographs come in. I've experienced it from both ends now... as a naturalist sending in these kinds of photos and now as a volunteer fluke matcher struggling with them, must be my karma!