A Whale Tale

That's a Humpback
That’s a Humpback

And a Dolphin.

With conditions firming up for Whale sightings on Long Beach Island this October 2013, I kept a sharp eye on the sea this morning. Just as we’d hoped last night, sure enough, a Happy Humpback not only came to visit with an entourage of Dolphin, but showed up no more than 100 feet from the beach. My hands shook as I tried to capture her in photos. Sadly, my delight soon turned to displeasure as a boat began aggressively harassing her and chased her out to sea. Then tragedy: my delight turned displeasure turned to absolute horror when I went to peek at my photos on the walk home and saw:

NO CARD IN CAMERA

I had left my memory card at home and did not get a single shot.

The Big Blow Off
The Big Blow Off

This was too much to take after the closing of our beloved Holgate as part of the government shutdown. But recently, a wise old timer and trusted wildlife spotter had told me about a spot on LBI ‘s Southside  that was analogous to my North End super spot. With nothing to lose, I packed up the car and headed down to the Southside in hopes of getting a second chance.

Waving Hello
Waving Hello

Well, I’ll be… wouldn’t you know it not 20 minutes later she came straight in from out at sea, right to me.

Focusing on a breaching Whale is tough business.
Focusing on a breaching Whale from the beach is tough business.
Baleen Whales: All puffed up for filtering food.
Baleen Whales: All puffed up for filtering food.

Then, as she swam away, I saw one of the more foolish things I’ve seen in Whale Harassment. A dude on a Stand Up Paddleboard decided to take SUP Dolphin Harassment to the next level by chasing the poor Humpback. This moron was in for the surprise of a lifetime.

This is the moment you should know you are in trouble.
This is the moment you should know you are in trouble.
Ruh Roh
Ruh Roh
I wonder how his bladder is holding up.
I wonder how his bladder is holding up.
That's +1 for Whale
That’s +1 for Whale

This fellow is lucky to have an unbroken neck. Just this summer an Australian surfer was knocked unconscious by a Humpback’s tail. Messing with Whales is not only illegal; it’s unhealthy. Our friend here chased the Whale through 2 lunge feeds, but this second one was a bit too much. I wish you could have seen this guy paddling for shore in a panic. We’ll forego turning him in for his handsome $10,000 fine under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

But not this guy. This guy is ON TOP OF THE WHALE. This is just bad for everybody.
But not this guy. This guy is ON TOP OF THE WHALE. This is just bad for everybody.
Way To Go NJ Registration # 6786GT. You just made Great Moments In Marine Mammal Harassment.
Way To Go NJ Registration # 6786GT. You just made Great Moments In Marine Mammal Harassment. (Also, this is a Combo Meal Shot: Whale Harasser & Black Scoter)

It’s a sad state of affairs that this poor animal was harassed 4 times (3 boats, 1 Paddleboarder), and that’s only what I saw. Someone should start enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act. That’s a cool $40,000 in fines to help these magnificent creatures.