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Naturalist’s Notebook: September 27 – October 03

In reading the reports made by the naturalists this week, I think Mark Gilmore sums up the beginning of the week the best when he writes, “On the way to Provincetown this morning, Pilgrim Lake  was a mirror and an indication of the offshore conditions.  Sure enough, there were finbacks between Wood End and Race Point, in glass calm waters.  So beautiful gliding alongside, about thirty feet away.  Offshore, we began encountering Mola molas, giant ocean sunfish within feet of us, also in the calm patches.

100_4482 mola D9  101_1983 open mouth mola mola


It was eerie how, between animal sightings, it was catspaws and hard to see into the waters, but everytime we stopped it was like a window opened–glass.”  This was reported on September 27 and continued into the 29th.  But, on the 29th, John Conlon reported intermittent showers passing through in early afternoon.  He notes that as the showers pass through, the temperature drops and the winds rise up.  There were no more reports for the week as the growing and sustained winds and the high seas they created caused the Dolphin Fleet to cancel its trips for the rest of the week.

On September 28, Dennis Minsky reports a sighting of Cardhu and her calf.  “They were absolutely in a nursing episode, lying still on the right side of the boat just beneath the surface.  The water was so clear we could see their shapes clearly–the ghostly green blurs lined up distinctly.”  And he finishes, “Very moving.”

The Dolphin VII had just one trip on September 27, carrying its Captain, Pete Maxon, out to sea for the last time.  Pete had been a Captain on the Fleet for many years and had been a good friend to those of us lucky enough to call him, “the little red-haired kid.”  For those of you that might have whalewatched with Pete, you might remember him as being a little gruff, but he was a steady hand at the throttle and a smooth hand on the wheel.  The comfort and safety of his passengers was always his primary focus.  I will miss Pete.