Sunday, May 19, 2013

Whales Ahoy!

Today was a super busy day! I woke up early because the students of the Marine Naturalist Training Program were graduating and in honor of this, the class had rented a whale watch boat—and I was invited! Despite my earlier luckiness in seeing J-pod, there were no orcas today. But there were plenty of sea lions, seals and even a Minke!

Harbor seals

Steller sea lions

Minke whale!

Minke whales are baleen whales which mean they have no teeth, only a filtering system made out of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and fingernails. They scoop up lots of water and small animals, such as ghost shrimp and krill, and then filter it out. However baleen is pretty hard to clean, so Minke whales have a nickname—stinky Minkes. Once you get a whiff, you can never forget. This can be smelled whenever a Minke comes up for air.

Look at the view!

Friday Harbor from the boat

After the trip was done, Kate and I were immediately carted off to the next part of our internship—Soundwatch. Soundwatch is an organization run by the Whale Museum that monitors and records boaters around whales as well as provides information for them.  J-pod was out today, so we had quite a busy day speeding around in our boat and informing people of the proper way to view whales. On our downtime, I even managed to get a few shots, but due to my lack of a telescoping lens, you have to make with zooming in on the photographs themselves. The upside-down black 'v's are the dorsal fins.

This one's a little blurry, but if you look where the blue changes to light blue (in the center), you can see an Orca rolling over to show its flipper!

This one's in the center, right at the line where the dark blue turns to light blue

This is a couple of them, also on the center line where the blue changes color
We spent four hours out there, before heading back to our docking ground. It was quite lovely but the one thing I would have changed was to put sunscreen on my ears! They’re all sunburned!

The day ended, as most have so far on this island, with exhaustion and falling into bed early. I think I’m still a bit jet-lagged and it shows!

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