Day 23: In Which There Are Whales

so technically the whales were on Wednesday, and this post was supposed to go up yesterday (I was working on a project this week backwriting an abstract given a paper we read, hence the delay), but due to mysterious technical issues, I guess it’s going up today.

Our professor for Marine Ecology is a whale researcher by trade, so she arranged for us to go out on a whale watching boat Wednesday morning to get us familiar with how whale data is gathered (data sheets. it’s always irritatingly set up data sheets).

It was very cold, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise since it’s very nearly autumn, but my fingers still went nearly numb by the end (I forgot my gloves, and I had to tuck them under all my layers up against my ribs to rewarm them). Funny thing about being in a fjord is that the sun doesn’t get above the mountains until about 10:30, even if its rising earlier, which also makes it colder. We got out into the middle of the fjord, and I took some idle pictures of the scenery and then a whole pile of humpback whales showed up (long winged new englander my beloved):

I like seeing their flippers underwater
they got very close to the boat!
a little blowspout rainbow

Seeing the sunlight make a rainbow in the blowspouts was kinda strange because the way the water got tossed up made it look like it was just illuminating a rainbow that already existed; some of the spouts were quite short and only turned blue and green, while for the taller spouts the red and orange hung in the air the longest. Like the color was hanging in the air and just needed the water to reveal it.

We spent Wednesday afternoon flipping through blurry and off kilter pictures looking for decent shots of their flukes so we could pass them on to get identified. At a guess there were about 20-25 total individuals, though it was tricky to tell, and there were some whales floating about half a mile off we never got to because the captain kept twiddling the boat around in little circles, so we mostly stayed with the same group.

This week’s primary assignment was to read a scientific paper whose title and abstract had been redacted, and then write a new abstract and title based on what your group thinks the most important bits of the paper are. It was a very interesting exercise, and is also roughly how I write my own papers (abstract and title last is). It means I can write the abstract by just writing a summary sentence for each section, and that basically covers you. I’d forgotten how strange it is to write in groups though.

Late last night, one of roommates came back with news that there were Northern Lights, so I crawled out just before bed:

faint and slightly smeary northern lights. also Mars

They were more impressive that this, a little, but the nearly full moon was just out of frame and washed them out a little. Most where that characteristic vibrant green, but some had hints of pink, which reminded me of nothing so much as watermelon tourmaline.

watermelon tourmaline, looking faintly like the northern lights, if you were ever a mineralogist. tourmaline is still the strangest sheet silicate I’ve ever encountered

One response to “Day 23: In Which There Are Whales”

  1. Northern Lights!!!
    At least you saw some.
    I’m envious


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