I’ve always wanted to see a whale. When I moved to Boston, I found myself with ample opportunities to join whale tours, yet something was holding me back. Last week while talking to a student of mine, I became aware of what that something was… He told me that he joined a tour recently and saw a baby whale… a “calf!” I’d wanted to meet a whale for such a long time that I’d worked up such crazy anticipation for it, trying to imagine the sheer greatness and enormity of these gentle beasts. What if I went and wasn’t lucky enough to spot one? Or I saw one but it wasn’t as magical as I’d hoped. Ultimately I’d set my expectations so high that I was nervous that the actual experience might not live up to the experience in my head. I decided that was a bullshit reason not to jump right in and do something I really wanted to do, so when Frank told me he had Friday off, I immediately booked our seats on Captain Bill’s Whale Watch tour out of Gloucester. This was supposedly an ideal location, being right in the middle of the feeding grounds/conservatory.
At 8:45 Friday morning, off we went. Forty five minutes later, we pulled into the town of Gloucester. First stop: George’s coffee shop, a lil’ dive-looking diner that we couldn’t pass up.
We killed some time, and a few cups of coffee, before heading to the pier. Joining our fellow tour-members, we settled in, with anticipation, for an hour and a half ride into the deep blue sea.
As the tour guide’s voice rang over the PA system, telling us to “start spotting,” we peeled our eyes, desperately searching for the tell-tale sign of whales: the spout.
I’m just gonna cut to the chase and say that, after a few brief whale encounters, which left me with the fear that I had, in fact, set my expectations too high, we really hit the jackpot! Our first intimate encounter was with Cilla, a humpback, and her calf. The whale people recognize the finger print-like markings, and track the whales each season. Our guide told us that Cilla is 30 years old and has mothered 12 babies. We wondered how many baby daddies she had (in other words, are whales monogamous?)… we later found out that she’s had 12 lovers … Frank said she’s a slut. But it’s a big ocean… I imagine it’s hard to relocate a former partner….
Anyway, we got to see her teach her babe how to eat, and how to dive. They were “breaching” like crazy. (“breaching,” for those of you non-whale experts, is when a whale lifts any part of their body out of the water). Speaking of whale experts, I was really surprised at how knowledgeable Frank is about whales. He informed me that they love to eat carrots, and explained that the reason is that they witnessed horses eating carrots and followed suit. ???????
Next we met Tulip (I think that was her name) and her calf, who really blew our socks off by swimming back and forth under and around our boat for 30 minutes. I swear, the baby was so curious about us, and, no doubt, was giving us a show. He was so close that his tail was hitting the boat. If my arms were longer, I could have easily reached out and touched him.
People were running from one side of the boat to the other to keep up with the duo. All except for this women…..
who must’ve been crazy tired to have fallen asleep in the direct sunlit 85 degree heat, during the commotion of one of the most incredible sights witnessable to mankind! I questioned her interest in the trip when I first saw her mosey to the rear of the boat to puff her cig right in the middle of Cilla’s little feeding spectacle…
Ahh, incredible! (the whales, not sleeping beauty). Every bit as wondrous as I imagined. Even more so, maybe. I was in awe. What extraordinary creatures!? I don’t know what to say! I cried, of course. But I cry at everything. I cry during songs on the radio, commercials, stories that friends tell me, sometimes during yoga.. anything that “moves” me… I cried during the first few chords of that classical concert in Rockort. That was before I embarrassed myself by clapping out of turn….
This might be a good time to note that I recently had an experience that really gave me a new perspective on life. It’s called the Hoffman process, and for anyone interested in discovering why you are the way you are, and why you react or respond to things the way you do, look it up. It’s incredible. I feel like a light bulb inside me has been given a wonderful surge of energy and appreciation. This new energy has drastically heightened my senses. Witnessing these whales took it to a whole new level. Again, what a wondrous world we live in!
So wow. This whale watch tour was such an experience, far surpassing my wildest expectations. I have some extraordinary videos, and wanted to share the beauty with of all of you (aka, dad), but unfortunately, I think I’d have to upgrade to WordPress Pro to upload videos….. damn. Well, hope you enjoyed the pictures.
Next stop: Japan! Tomorrow (Friday) at noon.