Whale Watch

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Afternoons we'd take the Cape Ann whale watch; from Rose's Wharf, we'd board the Daunty Fleet. Welcome aboard to search for the largest animals that ever lived on earth, the tickets read. We'd set out of Gloucester Harbor in a storm of sea gulls and cormorants. Out thirty miles into the Gulf of Maine, we'd go watching for the vapor blows. But often it was the magic emerald green bubble clouds we'd see first patches of white fin, algae bubbles and plankton; next, the blow, and then they'd be there. Humpbacks feeding and playing, fin splatters starboard. We'd watch until the white moon rose in the still blue sky the explosions: forty tons each, breaching, over fifty foot long ebony rainbows sided with mosaic teeth patterns from hungry killer whales. Humpbacks carrying a ton of barnacles on their undersides: flipper slapping whacks, fluke splash, spyhop, twirls, dives then logging. Megaptera novaeangliae translates ``big winged New Englanders.'' And that May we would search out the stragglers back early from the Caribbean, feeding off Stellwagen Bank, whales larger than our boat. Under the white moon against the darkening sky their movements outlined in black water and white foam, our boat paralleled their course and speed, our breath paralleled their every move.

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