Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 6--Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor--Whale Watching Tour

Sparky absolutely HAS to go on any whale watching tour that is available in our travels....Even though the weather was cool to cold for us the first week in June in Bar Harbor, (in the fifties)--now that we are Floridians, Sparky still wanted to go. Eldo thought that maybe it was too early in the season for whales to be in the area, and with the cold, rainy weather, Sparky thought he might be right. (WHAT??? What did you say??? asks E. Did I hear you say I might be right?????) So-o-o-o-o.... today dawned with a little better weather, temps were up just a bit...around 60...We decided to chance it and GO! Really really bundled up...layers and layers of clothing, and Eldo even decided to buy a sweatshirt, to add to his layers. We just LOVE being out on the water.....

We went with the Bar Harbor whale watching/puffin tour...the company is right at the wharf at Bar Harbor. It was early in the season, first week of June, they had only been underway since mid May, we think. Prices were 59.00 a person. The company is a very good company with responsible ecological goals and deserves the support your tourist dollars, we feel....

There was a little bit of a chop (waves and some small up and down movement), and briefly Sparky fought some queasiness, easily remedied by heading to the upper deck and breathing in some fresh air. A lot of folks ended up using the seasick bags...Sparky got a kick out of the name on the bag....
There was an Asian lady and her daughter sitting right across from us inside the cabin as we waited for the whale activity to begin. We first had to ride a good half hour to get anywhere where we might see whales. Sparky saw the mom using a pencil/stylus type tool on her daughter's hand. Apparently, she was doing acupressure or some kind of massage technique on her daughter to help her with queasiness.
The book in front of her was the "complete guide to acupressure points" Sparky guessed. This is what one of the pages looked like. It was really cool! Then all of a sudden, the mom grabbed Sparky's hand and started vigorously stroking the webbing between Sparky's fingers on her left hand and pushing HARD on her fingers. She was talking in Japanese (Korean?) rapidly to her daughter and the daughter translated a little. She said that her mother said Sparky was healthy. She also asked if Sparky had a little trouble with lower back pain. Actually, Sparky has trouble with the left lower side of her back and side now and then. Sparky was startled that this lady was able to tell that just by stroking the fingers on her hand! Interesting!
Soon, we were far out from Bar Harbor....We first passed the Egg Rock Lighthouse where the puffins were nesting and swimming. They are little dudes...only about 12" in length. Sparky tried very hard to get some photos, but with the boat rocking up and down quite a bit, it was impossible to get the camera steady enough to capture any puffins. Darn! Bring on the whales! We were well into the trip and hadn't seen anything at all in the way of the great mammals when one was spotted!
A finback whale! He was close! So close that the naturalist aboard said there was something not quite right about him.

It turned out that the whale was tangled in some kind of lines and buoys and was trying to swim and drag himself out of it. The boat was able to get close enough to the whale to document that this was happening, and they immediately started logging his GPS location and other identifying details to a special team in Maine that specializes in rescuing entangled whales. The ship's captain and crew announced that we would need to spend more time by the whale in order to get the best and most current information to the rescue team to try and help the whale. OK by us! The whale continued to move while we were in the area, dragging the lines and buoys with him. The naturalist said that the whale could have been trapped for quite some time, although they didn't see him as starving or in drastic imminent danger quite yet, he was thin. He was breathing quite often, though, and we were all concerned for him. She said that she had heard of THREE entrapped whales in the time that she had been working the whale watch trip, all in one season. Sad! The whale watch company has protocols that they follow:

After spending 40 minutes with this animal, we realized it was dragging buoys and had fishing line cutting into its tail. Because the whale was thinner than normal, we believe the whale was entangled for quite some time, (many days...probably weeks). The Friendship V followed Whale SENSE protocol and called the Coast Guard, Department of Marine Resources, and Center for Coastal Studies. Unfortunately, because we were 42 miles from Bar Harbor, and the whale was not anchored to the ocean floor by the gear, NOAA's whale disentanglement's team made the decision hold off on sending out a vessel out to search for the whale this morning. If this whale is relocated and reported NOAA will decide if a disentanglement team will be dispatched from the Maine Department of Marine Resources Marine Patrol.

But of course we didn't mind staying in the area and the trip being twice as long as it was supposed to be, with the chance of seeing a whale so close by....But very sad circumstances.....

The crew said it could take HOURS for a team to come into the area where the whale was, and it looked like after a lot of communication between all parties involved, that nothing could be done till the next day....With heavy hearts, the crew and ship with all of us had to leave the area.....Not knowing if anyone would be able to locate this distressed whale.
We found out after we got back, a few days later, that they were not able to get a team to this whale...His fate and location were unknown....Later, after we returned to Florida, we heard of another whale called Spinnaker, a 35 foot humpback whale, that had been rescued from lines and traps three times in 11 years, only to succumb to a death that was unknown when she was found washed ashore, dead, in Bar Harbor near Great Head.

On another note, one last hurrah before leaving beautiful Maine, to head home for Florida. We are leaving for Moosehead Lake to go hunting for---MOOSE! We are going to spend two days in Greenville, Maine and see if we can't spot some moose! Stay tuned....See you next time!

1 comment:

  1. I understand that acupuncture and acupressure are really amazing IF you can find someone really good at it. Like chiropractic. I'd be very happy to see puffins in the wild. The only time I've seen them was in Ireland and it was wonderful. I just don't understand with all the problems whales have why the one you saw wasn't rescued. Very sad. We caused the problem but we won't fix it?