FROM 2-5. Nome-Tuktoyaktuk (Canada)

…of breaching whales and strings…7054 16014

..of mucous? I remember reading in Sydney that biologists follow whales off the coast and collect bits of skin and other material the whales leave behind every time they surface. For about an hour during my last watch, there were whales breaching all around the horizon – looked like humpbacks but I don't know enough about other species to discriminate. We sailed through a spot where a very big one had been and sure enough, lots of frothy, rather greasy looking bubbles, flakes – more like little mats of perhaps skin and long strings and skeins of mucous like substance. I was not expecting it else would have tried to retrieve some.

And a whale spout in silhouette is just a grey column – hangs around for much longer that I would expect – but a spout with the sunlight reflecting from it is something special – stark white to begin with, then as it spreads and dissipates, a shower of diamonds falling through silver mist. Lovely – and out here, a century ago, deadly for the whale. Charlie Brower's descriptions of the whalers and the hundreds of ships are cause for admiration of the men and mostly Eskimo women who hunted the whales along the edges of the ice – and deep sadness that the whales are now so scarce. A bowhead was worth a fortune to the catcher – think corsets – and I wonder whether any of the women who wore them and the men who expected them to do so – had any idea of the hardship and awfulness that killing whales for the baleen that made the whalebone for the corset actually involved. The bowhead was saved by the invention of plastics (I think).

There's a deep grey green blue Chinese jade – not very common – that's the Chukchi sea today. I've never seen the sea as flat and glassy as it was this morning even in the tropics. We have a bit of breeze now, on the nose again, but useful to help the motor along. AGW, a lift this arve if the GRIB is right and Point Barrow tomorrow morning. Pete, we drank one of yours for the Arctic Circle, Steve, one of yours for the whales. Nooice!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Comments are closed.