Friday, July 9, 2010

Whales Tails Tale & a Fish Story

On our last day in Labrador we awoke to another windy, foggy and cold day. At breakfast we talked to the owner about not getting to see any whales and he told us that when the capelin are running you can stand by the hotel and watch them in the bay below. We lamented about how the fog would not let us see anything on the way to the ferry. Oh well, in January we were lucky enough to see a fin whale and did a blog post on that wonderful trip. We were able to get really up close with that huge whale. It was one of the highlights of our time as fulltimers. What we did not see on that trip was the whale's tail and have since learned that fin whales do not show their tails. When we left the resort we drove out of the thickest fog and could see the water. We had not gone five miles when Nanc spotted spouts just off shore. We were able to get right down by the water and watched a pod of humpbacks feeding just a few hundred meters off shore. We saw several flukes as they dove for the capelin. After about twenty minutes of watching this show we moved on as Nanc wanted to return to the lighthouse to check out the gift shop. Just off the road to the lighthouse there was a pod of three or four humpbacks not 100 meters away. We sat in the car and watched as they slapped their tails, popped their heads out of the water, waved to us with their fins as the rolled and surged ahead in short bursts of speed all in a massive feeding frenzy. We not only could hear them breathing but could hear their songs and clicking as they communicated. The only thing we did not see was a full breach out of the water. As you look at the pictures just imagine that many more great shots were missed and that we finally stopped shooting and just watched. It should give you an idea of what a great show of nature we saw.
The tail (fluke) of the humpback as it dives. The markings on the tail are different for each whale. You can click here to get more info on humpbacks.
It was not a fluke (actually it was a lot of them) as we captured fifteen tail pictures. I don't know how many we missed as we watched this spectacular display.
This was the first place we stopped to watch. Just seeing that tail in the air filled us with excitement. It reminded me of what John and Ann, a couple of fulltimers, told us they say at times like this, "It was one of those National Geographic moments."
The whales breath as it spouts not 100 meters away. WOW!!!!!!
Three out of the water together. They definitely were working as a team to encircle and capture the capelin.
Here the whale had just surged across the water with its mouth open.
We decided it was time to move on as the whale waved good-bye. After almost an hour of watching we were both in awe at what we had just witnessed. Mother Nature at her finest. We could not have paid for a better show.
And here is what the whale feeding frenzy is all about. The capelin, a small fish not five inches long, are a major food source for the whales and seals. It seemed like they were trying to get out of the water as they filled the beach. Fishermen now fish for capelin which they did not do in the past and some people are afraid they are going to destroy this important animal food source.

We moved on to the Gateway to the North Campground in Deer Lake where we took a couple of days to do chores and restock the cupboard. Nearby, at the end of a dirt road, is the Sir Richard Squires Memorial Provincial Park where we were told we could see another natural wonder we have never seen, the salmon climbing the falls to spawn.
Big Falls at 10 to 18 feet high is the largest obstacle the salmon face on the Humber River.
You can get close enough to the action to feel the spray of the water. You would see the same fish over and over again as they flew through the air fighting their way up the falls.
We did see several that made it but most were scarred from the effort. This really is survival of the fittest. Throughout our travels we always say the things in nature are the most spectacular and what we have seen in the last couple of days really proves that is true.


MarkandRenita said...

Great post!

V Frayer said...

Absolutely breathtaking! What a wonderful experience for you two!

Christine said...

Wow! Awesome photos. Humpbacks are beautiful. I saw them in Hawaii one year in January with their babies. Love your blog!