PLYMOUTH – One of the nature’s most rare wildlife spectacles occurred last weekend in Manomet as witnesses gathered along the coast to view nature’s finest: a pod of North Atlantic right whales. Northeasterly winds drove plankton into Cape Cod, which attracted scores of these giant mammals, some of which had their calves, to graze upon it Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Spectators saw many of the whales Wednesday in Marshfield in Ocean Bluff.
Nearly a century ago, these mammals were nearly hunted into extinction, and now they are making a comeback. In the spring, they are also making habits of appearing off of local coastlines.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, North American office of Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s executive director, reports that an aerial surveillance viewed seventy-one of the whales throughout Western Cape Code throughout the weekend. This includes two pairs of mothers. Plymouth’s outer harbor had two whale spottings.
The whale visit coincided with the lifting of restrictions for lobstering on Friday meant to protect whale habitats, which numbers 500 across the globe.
Whales typically visit Plymouth during early spring during their migration period from the Carolinas and Florida back up north.
It’s clear they do what they like, though, according to Asmutis-Silvia, with regards to their timing.
This visitation coincided with a weather pattern blowing in northeasterly, creating a push of a type of plankton by the name of copepods into Cape Cod Bay’s elbow in the millions.
Whales feed upon this by swimming with their mouths open through these fat rich, but miniscule creatures. Each the size of a grain of rice, the copepods contain oil droplets that help whales survive the winter months. Each whale consumes more than one ton daily.
Friday, the whales, were seen off Ellisville. They appeared to be migrating northbound toward Manomet later on. A woman commented on how they looked as though they were headed to Duxbury to have lunch as they moved from feeding at Manomet Point.
Friday, there were dozens crowded at the point. More spectators arrived over the weekend to enjoy nature’s show.
One observer commented about how they looked like big rocks swimming by because they have massive heads and no humps.
A wildlife photographer by the name of Linda Fuller followed the whales northbound from Scusset Beach all the way to Manomet Point with her telephoto camera at the ready. She commented about how much she loved watching them and how amazing it was to see the up close.
Another spectator, Denis Girondel, who recently moved Manomet from France, remarked about how surprised they were about how close they came to shore and how incredible they are.
According to Asmuti-Silvia, the whales made a visitation two years ago, but it was not nearly as impressive as this one. Researchers are not sure where the rest of the population of whales are, but they have indicated that these are all in good health. They all seem happy and fat, according to Asmuti-Silvia.
The phenomenon seemed to be finished by Monday. Researchers believe it is due to the changing wind patterns.