Dark, hard, flexible and a little flaky, the texture of Stumpy’s baleen was reminiscent of horn, or a disturbingly overgrown fingernail.
But at its worn tip and edges Hunt pointed out a surprise: a fringe of wispy hair, soft as a person’s.
Just as geologists decode the history of the Earth from rocky strata, or dendrochronologists interpret past climactic conditions from tree rings, so biologists are now learning to read a whale’s life history as inscribed in its baleen.
This anatomical oddity, part of a class of animal tissues that are emerging as tenacious biological recordkeepers, could reveal a monthly, even weekly, historical record of a whale’s life events stretching back as long as two decades.
Then a slab of black back followed by the silhouette of flukes, signaling another deep dive. Groans from the crew, who did not quite manage to snap a photo that could help identify the whale, one of an early March influx that foretold another strong season in Cape Cod Bay.
‘There’s probably a bunch of whales here but it’s going to drive us crazy,’ Mayo chimed in. It’s hard as hell to tell.’The world’s rarest whales – – have been visiting the bay in late winter and early spring for as long as anyone can remember.
Not just a few dozen animals, as was typical, but hundreds were showing up and, in one year, darn-near two-thirds of the world’s entire living population of around 500 North Atlantic right whales. Simultaneously, the whales went AWOL from their usual summer feeding grounds 300 miles to the northeast in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and elsewhere, further mystifying researchers. The whales remained deep down, scooping up patches of zooplankton and straining out the seawater through the long strips of baleen in their mouths. A change in the location of their preferred food is the most likely explanation for the whales’ wandering itinerary, Mayo said. As with so much else about their lives, only the whales know what it is.The guide was very informative & kept you updated at all times!We managed to see lots of sea birds & white beaked dolphins!Mayo told me that all this work, focused on a skimpy population, has made the North Atlantic right whale the most intensively researched whale on Earth, per individual animal.But whales are notoriously tricky to study, and many mysteries persist.They have employed time-tested observation methods from boats and planes to document the right whales’ demographics, movements, behaviour, biology and diet, and to catalogue sightings of individual whales.They’ve creatively investigated the whales’ genetics, health and sensory capabilities, all to figure out how to improve the critically endangered species’ chances of survival.Specially built for whale watching, the spacious vessel offers variety of platforms for watching the whales as well an indoor viewing area with large windows.To keep you warm and comfortable there are warm overalls on board, but there are also hot drinks and light refreshments in the on-board café. Don't worry, you can give us that information when you add this item to your cart.After the tour you can explore the Whale Exhibition Centre to find out more about the mysteries of the ocean. Tour departure point Departure and return point for this tour is at Reykjavik Harbour, by Ægisgarður pier How pick up and drop off works This whale watching tour is operated by our partner "Elding Reykjavik Whale Watching" that picks you up from your hotel or guest house and takes you directly on the tour.It is situated in an old Capelin-fishing vessel “Fífill,” which has been transformed into an exhibition and information centre on whales and sea birds. Pick up from hotels, guesthouses and designated bus stops starts 45 minutes before the tour departure time stated on your voucher.