Monday, March 3, 2014

Siren Song

Capt. Anita, readying her boat for a charter.
 I got to Dinghy Dock for my trip to listen to whale songs a little early. That's never a bad thing there...I got to watch Anita be her Captain self and had a breakfast perfect for getting through any Friday night leftover muzzies while readying to go out on the water.

Thanks, Teresa! Very delicious and all the right ingredients, plus kiwi!

Then it was time to go. I've written about humpback whales before, but this was going to be hearing them, not just hearing about them.

Humpback whales. What do we know about them? According to Paul Knapp, the man who took me out to listen to whales singing, the answer is pretty simple. Not much. That a lifetime could be spent studying, listening, swimming with and observing every aspect of these creatures, while knowing there is a very good chance that one of the most obvious questions, what do the wild variations in the songs mean? will probably not be answered, says something about the pull of these creatures once you let them get under your skin. So to speak.

Credit - unknown
Christopher Moore, in an excerpt of his book Fluke or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings, wrote:
 The whale was into a section of the song they called the "green" themes, a long series of whoops that sounded like an ambulance driving through pudding. A less trained listener might have thought that the whale was rejoicing, celebrating, shouting howdy to the world to let everyone and everything know that he was alive and feeling good, but Nate was a trained listener, perhaps the most trained listener in the world, and to his expert ears the whale was saying — Well, he had no idea what in the hell the whale was saying, did he?

Heading to hoped for whale singing territory
Paul tossed out a drogue, or sea anchor, so we could drift slowly in what was, thankfully, pretty calm seas, the best for listening.

Overboard went the hydrophone - Whale song can travel up to ten miles away

In between listening to the songs (and yes, I'll get to that!) we listened to an interview by a couple of experts on the subject of humpback whales and their songs. They have studied long enough to know they really don't know much except that it is always the males who sing, that the songs are constantly changing, that the same whale you heard this year will never sing that song again. The mystery is omnipresent and at least to me, hugely wonderful. These giant creatures aren't in the business of being real concerned about what human's want to know. Nice!

Ignore the lack of beauty in imagery, I was wanting to catch a bit of song. The sound in the video is only one - sort of the ambulance in pudding sound. But other sounds, like puppies make when they are sad, like kittens cavorting, sounds plaintive and playful swirled around us. There was one indescribable sound that Paul says he hears a lot, a sort of lurp! lurp! lurp! but with a bit of a pop at the end that really surprised me. Paul says when they are observed making that sound, there are no bubbles emerging. Where does the *pop* go? I have no idea. I only know it was fun to hear. 

I was looking out this way for boats
The first time I heard a boat engine on the speakers I thought it was weird whale sound but looking around there were a few boats heading in and the hydrophone picks it up. If there were too many, Paul would turn off the speaker until it got quiet again. That's when we listened to Foxy sing In the Middle of an Island, Paul had recorded his first CD for him and Tessa many years ago. It was a perfect choice for a perfect moment on a perfect day.

The last time I was looking out that way, I thought I was looking at a boat. A big boat. A black boat. On that same horizon. Until the huge splash, HUGE splash, and I realized it wasn't a boat, it was a whale's tail. It all took only a few seconds, and it was gone, but only in real space, in myself, the songs, the tail, the splash, are recorded forever.

Photo credit unknown - 
If I'd had my camera ready, this is pretty much the view I saw pre-splash
...but a lot farther away.

Another day where magic happened. I'm so grateful to Paul for allowing me to experience something I've wanted to do, well, let's say it was on my bucket list. It's hard to cross off something you want more of, but being content with the ever on going if looked for overflowingness of life is also something on my bucket list. I'm working on it.

It was home again home again time...let the magic continue
Have a marvel in your Monday. Do something mackatackatoucheetoo.

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