Humpback Heaven

by Cindy Dionne

Photographs by Cyn ©1999

Cindy Dionne
Humpback Whale Tail
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Being from New England, before moving to Florida, I have had many opportunities to visit Cape Cod & Cape Ann. In 1999 I spent a month there with someone who had never been to the area so I knew that a whale watch was in order. I don't know what was more exciting, the look on my friends face or watching the whales. At 60 feet long and weighing up to 40 tons these whales are very impressive. Course when they are close enough to get you wet with a salty spray as they surface. . . Well, that's down right invigorating !!!!

We started from Province Town and headed for Stellwagen Bank, right smack in the middle of Cape Cod & Cape Ann. The ride was great as was the weather. On the way out we were told a bit about the whales and what to expect. We never expected the show that we were greeted with. These are some of the first shots I took that day. At first the whales were off in the distance so having a 400mm lens came in handy.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale Tail

I received my first 35mm, a Canon FTb, in 1974 as a high school graduation gift and it opened a whole new world for me. I've always appreciated beautiful landscapes but my true passion is photographing wildlife. These days I mostly shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel G using a Tamron 200-400mm f/5.6 zoom lens. I really don't like having to work with a bulky tripod so I break all of the rules and do most of my work hand held using Kodak 400 film.

The captain of the boat as well as the crew wanted everyone to have a memorable experience so they got us closer and closer - keeping in mind at all times the safety of the passengers as well as the whales. The one thing that was very prominent through out the day were the amount of gulls in the area. They became a calling card for where the next whale would surface. I guess they know that there's nothing better than a free meal. We watched as the whales surfaced & dove over and over again. . .

Humpback Whales Feeding
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Humpback Whale Blow
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. . .And then they were gone. Just as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone. So we thought.

WOW !!!!!!! With a burst of air & a wall of salty mist they were back and right under the boat. It wasn't until then that we all realized the enormity of these animals. WOW, we were feeling the spray from their blow holes up on the second level of the boat !

It was as though they were just as curious of us as we were of them. They were playing with the boat. Diving under it and coming up on either side giving us a show that was just beyond what words could explain. So Big - So Graceful - So Beautiful ! And show us they did. It wasn't until they started to feed that the gulls really got into the action. It was a show of feathers & flukes and no one was going to be out done.

Humpback Whales
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Humpback Whale Tail
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Back down to regroup. . . they were gone - but not with out a show first. And getting even closer. My lens got wet from the spray of the salt water as they surfaced and splashed with their tails.

They got very close !!!

I'm not sure if you take pictures at all but. . . every photographer will tell you there's is that one moment that your shutter closes. . . you know if you've gotten "it" or not. Well, I knew that I had gotten this shot the moment it happened. The gull landed for a split second, the blink of an eye, or in the case the click of a shutter. This is one of my most prized shots from my month long vacation in New England for 1999. It's as though the whales and the gulls came together for a curtain call at the end of the day.

A symphony of nature !

Humpback Whale Feeding
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I hope you enjoy the photographs - I know I enjoyed taking them as well as sharing them. I think it is important to note the importance of these whale watches. Not just for the entertainment but also for their educational purpose. There is no way that someone could experience something like this and not want to help preserve these animals and their world. - Cindy.

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