Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Emily Little

A whale of a time


Published:

About a month ago, when my mom and I went to Boston for a few days, I was given an amazing opportunity. I was extremely excited when my mom told me that we would be headed to Boston Harbor to hop aboard a whale-watching catamaran operated by the New England Aquarium.

We were up bright and early as our boat was supposed to leave the harbor at 9 a.m. We got to the harbor and after a bit of wandering, we found our way to the correct dock. It was about 8:15, and we were the first to arrive.

About 45 minutes later, the dock was lined with people who were getting sweaty and impatient. Nearly an hour later, our boat arrived and we all clamored to get into the air-conditioning. Everyone found their seats, and it quickly became clear that the on-boat intercom system was not working. For the entirety of the hour and a half trip out to the "whale zone," the few employees on board attempted to get it up and working. However, their attempts were to no avail, and we ended up having to just listen very carefully when one of the crew was talking.

Once we arrived to the area where the whales were usually spotted, we were told it would be a good idea to step outside and walk to the front of the boat. A crewmember stood on a bench and projected her voice as loud as she could, telling us that she would advise us of the whales' location as she would tell us the time on a clock. For example, if a whale were directly in front of the boat, she would yell, "12 o'clock!"

Soon enough, the crewmember yelled out, "9 o'clock!" and everyone on board ran to the left side of the boat. A huge humpback whale came up, flipped her tail fluke, and dove down into the ocean. We were told that by looking at the whale's underside, it was possible to identify specifically which whale we had seen. We learned that all the whales in the area were known to the crew.

This particular whale's name was Nile, and she popped back up three more times before she disappeared. Sometimes we heard her puff air from her blowhole before we saw her. The crewmember told us that there were three species of whale that we could potentially see, and by the end of the trip, we had seen all three. We saw the humpback, the minke and the finback.

It was pretty funny every time the crew yelled out a "clock location" and all the passengers quickly migrated to that area of the boat. It was difficult to manage taking pictures and trying to spot the whales in the distance - I decided to just watch.

When I first found out we would be going whale-watching, I thought we would see a few whales, maybe three at most. We ended up seeing seven or eight, with each whale surfacing more than once.

On the boat ride back to the harbor we went through all of the pictures we took, and found a particularly candid one my mom captured on her camera. It was a close up picture of a whale's fluke as it went down on a dive, and it was amazing.

To say it was an experience I'll never forget is an understatement. It's crazy to think that creatures that weigh almost 75,000 pounds can be so gentle and beautiful. Every single whale was absolutely spectacular, and I would go again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

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