|Right whale mother and calf frolic (upper left) off the Marineland, FL shores. |
Photo credit: Jan Geyer
As I was returning from visiting our daughter in Gainesville yesterday (Sunday, February 3) I received an excited voice mail message at about 5PM from my friend Jan Geyer who, while most folks were preparing for the Superbowl game, was with her mother enjoying an ocean stroll up at Marineland. The message went something like this, and spoken in a very excited and almost out of breath tone, "Chris! I am standing here with my mother up at Marineland and there are TWO WHALES right in front of us (!!!)....spouting like crazy and rolling in the waters... and the first person I thought of to call was...you!" We have had somewhat random conversations about my whale watching experiences as we paint together at Hollingsworth Gallery (in Palm Coast) but how fortuitous as it set off the appropriate chain reaction as I made several alert calls and discovered that no one, as yet, was aware of these whales so a big thank you goes out to you, Jan!
Shortly after I spoke to Sheila McKenney of the Marineland Right Whale Survey Project who had arrived and confirmed it was a right whale mother and calf. Sheila was able to connect with Jan and her mom and her enthusiasm at this sighting spilled over and it was then that Jan learned how special this event truly was. Sheila began capturing the sighting details and shared her binoculars so that Jan could see just how big and beautiful they were. Project leader, Dr. Jim Hain, Senior Scientist arrived and began the difficult task of trying to capture photographs of the whales as they breached ever so slightly, and attempted to identify the whales. And then the sun was quickly getting very low in the sky.
So on this late Sunday evening while most were home watching the kick off of the Superbowl, here on this wide and windswept and deserted beach, Jan and her mom Judy, Sheila and Jim were able to witness a mother and her calf playing their own kind of games as they rolled and spouted and nudged each other. Truly a "super" sight to see. Here's to even more sightings as we...watch on!
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: As I write this a hotline alert has gone out to all volunteers in our sector letting everyone know about this sighting and to keep a close eye out for them today as they were heading slowly south and could be in our waters during watch today.