Last weekend, 10 students drove to Gloucester, 2 hours from Harvard Forest, to go on a whale-watching boat tour. The weather was very drizzly and foggy, but the tour leaders were optimistic: “9 times out of 10, the fog lifts as we head out to sea”, they said. As the boat puttered out of the harbor, students were treated to beautiful, though foggy, views of the New England fishing town, wooden sailboats, and quaint lighthouses. Unfortunately, the fog never lifted and
we continued motoring around the Bay all afternoon with 300 feet of visibility. The educators on board from The Ocean Alliance were fantastic, and had many props to help teach passengers about the whales: they had recordings of whale songs on a CD player, models of the underwater terrain in the Bay, and samples of baleen to explain how non-toothed whales eat. They also did a plankton tow from the back of the boat and had magnifying glasses so we could see the different types of plankton in the water.
Eventually, we all lost hope of having any whale sightings on this trip. Luckily, we all received rainchecks to attend another tour for free, since “whale sightings are guaranteed” – eventually – on tours out of Gloucester. The day concluded with hot clam chowder and calamari at a local restaurant before heading back to the Forest.
"Even though the expedition proved whale-less, I had a lot of fun spending time on deck with the other REUs singing Disney songs over the engine and huddling together for warmth. The five hour tour in the fog and wind made the New England clam chowder especially apropos." – Morgan Vigil