Monday, August 17, 2009

What... no birds?

Sure, I can write an entire blog that has nothing to do with birds. It's easy. Watch.So I got up REALLY EARLY this past Sunday to go out on a boat some 70 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. There might have been birds flying around said boat, but that's just not important right now. What is important is a whale.I mean, just look at this giant... a FIN WHALE. She is one mighty and magnificent animal.When one first observes a Fin Whale cresting the water, it takes a good long time for the actual fin to arrive to surface, providing some indication as to the size of this whale. I could show you the dozens of photos before and after this photo was taken to give you a better idea, but instead... let's talk about turtles!This is a LEATHERBACK TURTLE. I might be wrong in this description, but this (planet earth's largest known reptile, according to the experts on the boat), looked like a Volkswagon Beetle floating on the water. Incidentally, I heard that the old Volkswagons could float... but, I digress. Notice the string-like thing hanging from this turtle's mouth? It would appear that it's been feasting on one of it's favorite meals: Jellyfish. Yum. A bit stingy aftertaste if you ask me. Some like it hot, I suppose.The leaders on the boat said that they might see one of these every couple of years. We saw an unprecedented THREE Leatherbacks, in addition to a LOGGERHEAD TURTLE.What's more, we got to get up close and personal with a HAMMERHEAD SHARK. Not just any hammerhead, mind you... but a SCALLOPED HAMMERHEAD SHARK!

Lastly, there were the dolphins. We had both the very familiar BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS and my personal favorite, the COMMON DOLPHIN on our trip this weekend. Wow! Can these mammals jump!Check out the striations on this dolphin's skin from a prop blade. This is one tough dolphin!See... an entire blog post with not even a mention of birds. I knew I could do it.

I disembarked from the boat, satisfied from a day of fantastic birds, but mesmerized by the ocean's many splendid creatures. We humans overfish the seas, while under-protecting the species that live in it. As a species, we tend to merely live for the moment, forsaking the future. Here's hoping that we humans do everything possible to study, protect and sustain the world's oceans, bays, rivers, streams and ponds.

Perhaps this web link is a fine place to start? OCEANA.ORG.

Doubt us humans, if you must... but have a look at our history. I borrow this snippet of information about the great BLUE WHALE from the AMERICAN CETACEAN SOCIETY'S website:

"Because of their enormous size and speed, blue whales were safe from early whalers, who could not pursue them in open boats with hand harpoons. But in 1868 a Norwegian, Sven Foyn, revolutionized the whaling industry with the invention of the exploding harpoon gun and by using steam and diesel powered factory ships and catcher boats. He also perfected the technique of inflating dead whales with air so they wouldn't sink after being harpooned. The whaling industry began to focus on blue whales after 1900. A single 90-foot blue whale could yield up to 120 barrels of oil, and the blues were killed by the thousands. The slaughter peaked in 1931 when over 29,000 were killed in one season. After that blue whales became so scarce that the whalers turned to other species and, belatedly, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned all hunting of blue whales in 1966 and gave them worldwide protection. Recovery has been extremely slow, and only in the last few years have there been signs that their numbers may be increasing. Pre-whaling population estimates were over 350,000 blue whales, but up to 99% of blue whales were killed during whaling efforts. Presently, there are an estimated 5-10,000 blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere, and only around 3-4,000 in the Northern Hemisphere."We humans have a sad history of depleting resources as quickly as possible. Luckily, we sometimes have the wisdom to note our excesses and take corrective measures.



QV4 said...

muy bueno el blog !!! saludos desde Argentina.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Wow! What an amazing experience, Dan.
- W and L

Nervous Birds said...

It certainly was...

And, there were birds too, of course. I added Greater and Cory's Shearwater to my State list, as well as Audubon's.

But the reptiles, mammals and fishes? oh my!

Chris said...

That sounds like and incredible trip.

Christopher said...

WOW!!! Spectacular day - can't beleve you saw 3 - THREE leatherback turtles! That's fantastic. And you got some great shots to remember the day with. Thanks for sharing them!

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