My Family and the Whales


Provincetown (P-town) is decked out in rainbow flags. The standard I am normally used to displays both stars and stripes, but alongside it here is the colourful banner of gay pride.

P-town Main Street

“Legalise Gay Cupcakes” emblazoned on a t-shirt warrants a photograph humorising the ever real battle for this basic human right (Go New York and Gay Marriage-P-town will be proud).

What flavour icing do they have? Not that matters much to me of course.

P-town sits on the tip of Cape Cod. We find, to our delight, that not only is a gay patisserie legal here but also a boat ride out into the Atlantic deep to float among the many pods of humpback whales that journey up here to feed over the summer. And although it is clear to a regular reader that I am not one to turn down a sugary product, the latter, in this case, is the true calling for the trip to this remote, sun kissed spot on the Cape. Sun cream effectively applied and maximum dosage of motion sickness drugs consumed, my family and I embark on our bumpy journey across the ocean. Sneaking on Dolphin IX, part of the Dolphin Fleet that comes highly recommended due to their strong scientific background in whale-y studies, we were delighted to jump up from the waiting list and board the stern of the ship. And as our vessel shoved off and out of the harbour, under the cloudless sky above, we were eager to find out what our trip would bring in terms of whale-like sightings, if any.

And there they were. Sharp sprays emerged from the water surrounding us, followed by the slow, elegant rolling of the humpback whale as each one dove back underwater. The water was black, reflecting the hot afternoon sun in all directions and as the boat slowed and came to a leisurely chug, the passengers watched in awe as jets appeared one after the other, in packs, pods of humpbacks, as they spent their days diving deep to feed and then resting on the surface; friends and family in tow. Our boat was rocking gently on top of the waves respecting these immense, yet silent, mammals that steadily paddle here. Spending their winters in the waters around Puerto Rico (good decision) these monumental creatures travel all the way up the East coast to feed so that when the winter comes they just don’t have to (less stress, great idea!). We learnt quickly that to search the horizon for a surge of air and water meant a whale or two and soon pods of these magnificent creatures were cruising past us, getting closer each time. An occasional wave of a pectoral fin and a jokingly teasing flutter of their fluke (tail bit) as they descended again had the whole boat in awe. Really the whole experience was a bit surreal. The magnitude of these powerful mammals coupled with the graceful movement through the water was quite mind-blowing. The only communication between these novice whale watchers was their collective “ooohhh’s” and “ahhhh’s” as monstrously magnificent creatures appeared and reappeared above the waves at such close quarters all around us.

A humpback whale is an impressive sight and pods of pods of them more so. P-town is the place to go if you are that whale inclined (chuckle, giggle, stop) and we will just have to wait if my sister’s more professional approach to photography yields better, more accurate images than my own.

A fluke? Or did my camera just catch a lucky break?


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