A magical day…

Log for September 16th, 2010. The most bio-diverse day to date in the Beam Reach Experience!

Our days aboard “Gato Verde” (the 42′ state of the art Catamaran that is now our home) have been nothing short of surreal and magical. But on this particular day, the foggy and mysterious 26th day in September, Poseidon was definitely on our side. It’s a foggy and mysterious morning, sailing with caution we set on our course for the day. Captain Shuster blasts his ‘fog horn’ at 5 minute intervals to warn any ‘invisible” vessels of our presence. By 10:30 am we’ve reached the bird aggregations (way point 168), surrounded by hundreds of birds of various species we are suddenly surprised by a couple of Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) foraging in the area. They’re  moving slowly among the kelp, giants among the dwarfed birds that rest on the surface. In the middle of our observations a baby harbor seal  (Phoca vitulina) visits the stern of our boat, seemingly wanting to get on board. Val’s sniper ‘s training pays off as he captures an elusive puffin. The exact genus of this fleeting bird confounds the naturalists and scientists aboard the Gato.  The angle of the shot is not ideal, but a puffin it is indeed, that is a fact they can all agree on. Unable to decide between the Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) , or the Tufted Puffin(Fratercula cirrhata), they leave the matter to rest, but a profound discontent lingers in the air. ‘Tis then when a Stellar sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) is spotted frolicking in the kelp, yet another wonder hiding in the heavy fog that envelopes the bird aggregations. Cat, our young and enthusiastic Britt  scientist, is able to record acoustically some of blows from the Minke’s for later comparison, taking advantage of the very quiet conditions we’d been enjoying on this lonely morning. By 1.30 pm we catch up with the orcas (way point 170). The day is still very foggy and there are fewer boats around than usual, including various small research outboards. In spite of the heavy fog, we are able to observe the whales in very active behavior: tail lobs, rolling, “cart wheels” breaches,  porpoising, periscoping, baby tail slapping. Around 2.30 some in the group see a calf spy hopping and vocalizing above water. We then enter a fog patch and think to have lost them, but then, all of a sudden, a crazy display of behaviors and vocalizations almost above water surrounded us. The ambient noise is now very low, and the whales and their echoing melodies are heard and recorded with crystal-like quality. The crew is now in a strange trance, no one can believe our luck. This day was to be recorded as the most exciting and biodiverse day in our adventure to date.

By the late afternoon, as the pretty Thea Foss crosses our path, we catch a school of Dall’s porpoises riding their bow wave. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Thanks for reading.


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