The house that we rented in Falmouth, Massachusetts is pretty quiet early in the morning…quiet enough for long enough to allow me to write the daily post. Yes, I’m on vacation but I look forward to sharing another article on all things relating to recording. After returning from a long day with my family and a niece that just happens to be working in the area, I’d like to share a part of a very memorable and remarkable day. And discuss how it is relevant to our current discussion.
We went whale watching out of Province Town (P-Town for those in the know) yesterday afternoon. After a long drive and brief visit to Race Beach, we arrived in P-Town at about 12:30 pm. The place was packed with tourists of all ages and we struggled a little to find parking. My son and I had a quick meal from one of the local eateries, my daughter and wife brought some take out sandwiches and my niece visited a friend that was working in the puzzle store, before we all headed to the pier and boarded Dolphin XIII for the 1:30 pm whale watching trip. The boat was practically full…and everyone had some sort of technology for capturing video or photos.
I brought along my GoPro video camera and my iPhone for stills. Others, including Lindsey (my niece), had professional cameras with long lens while still others brought tablets along in the hopes that we’d see some whales to record. I’ve done one previous whale watching outing from Ventura, California but after 4 hours of cruising off the coast of southern California looking for the migrating grey whales, we returned to the dock without any sightings. I was confident yesterday was going to be different. One of my niece’s friends had been out the day before and texted that they encountered 14 humpbacks, 2 fin whales, a few Minkes and some seals. We were hoping for a similar tally.
It takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the Stellwagen Bank off the eastern edge of the Cape. On the way, the naturalist announced on the PA system that a dead Minke whale was being towed back to P-Town by a boat off the right side of the Dolphin XIII. We saw the animal, which it turns out had become entangled in some fishing equipment and died sometime recently. My niece was already in the know about this unfortunate event. She’s been working with the IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Rescue) since last September and has been involved in many marine mammal rescues and recoveries. In fact, this morning she is at the land fill where they are doing the necropsy on the Minke whale.
Figure 1 – Breaching humpback whale
Once our boat reached the location of the whales, the collective excitement began to increase. We could see other boats in the area surrounded by whales slapping their pectoral fins, exhaling through their blowholes and feeding. When we arrived, the place was teaming with humpback whales. There were a couple of mothers with their calves, group bubbling in circles to maximize their intake of fish, whales breaching (jumping out of the water) and even a couple of fin whales cruising through the area. I was absolutely stunned by the activity, the closeness of the animals and the sheer number of sightings…we were in the midst of a feeding frenzy.
And everyone on the boat was either taking photos or video. There were lots of professional Nikon and Canon cameras among the crowd, but they were vastly outnumbered by people (including myself) holding up Smartphones and tablets. The “professional” videographer working with the tour company was up on the flying bridge along with the naturalist and captain recording the events for a DVD production that would be available to tourists. I actually spoke to her during the trip back to P-Town about getting a Blu-ray disc. She told me that they didn’t produce Blu-rays because they were still “shooting on film”.
Film? I know the Canon XL1 she was using and it’s definitely a miniDV camera…not film. It does use miniDV digital tapes, which is why she probably thought it was a “film” camera. She was right that it was not capable of HD video but I was surprised that she was the “professional” on board and was confused about something so basic. I suspect that most of the tourists on the boat were getting better images than she was.
Figure 2 – The dead Minke whale being lifted onto the pier.
The trip was absolutely amazing! And to cap off it off, once we arrived back at the dock we noticed that the Minke whale was tied up along side the pier waiting to be moved. Lindsey escorted us past the barricades as a member of the IFAW and we experienced the loading of the animal onto a tarp for preliminary measurements and full report.
The entire day was special and that Lindsey was in the right place at the right time to participate in the events surrounding the Minke whale was ideal. She took lots of pictures and I’m sure she was very proud of her work. I was impressed.
Final tally…15 humpbacks, 2 fins, 4 Minkes and a bunch of seals…perfect.