A word from Leonid Tolstoy


“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”

Leonid Tolstoy

One Man's Paradise

Whale’s up

Today I am writing about an experience, where no picture does the experience any justice.

We went whale watching off Brier Island. I did not know what to expect, except the images and clips I had seen on the web. Let me say this, there is no image or video that comes close to the experience of seeing a whale in the ocean up close.

Going to Brier Island is quite a trip, as you need to take two ferries to get off the Digby Neck onto the Island. You can take a boat or a Zodiak to go whale watching. I guess the Zodiak is for the younger crowd, as you ride in a rubber boat with little protection from the elements. We took the more comfy Chad and Sisters Two vessel, operated by Mariner Cruises.

It was our captain’s birthday, so it had to be a great trip. The weather was splendid, the day before winds and swell had made a couple of passengers sea sick, but today the sea was calm, a slight breeze and clear skies. We left Westport heading towards the Bay of Fundy. Some passengers had been on whale watching trips before and told about black blobs they saw in the distance. Not so on this trip. After an hour of cruising into the bay we heard the magic word: “Whale’s up!”

Maybe 100 feet away from the boat a dark spine broke the surface, followed by a small fin, more spine and the tail, barely getting out of the water. We got a clear look at all the marks on the surface of the skin. This big mammal moved gracefully, without haste through the water. We puttered along on the side, and there it was again. The head, a spray from the blowing hole, the fin, the back and the tail. Cruising along, staying close to the surface.

We traveled together for a while until the whale decided to go for a dive. The tail got out of the water, the whale headed straight down into the ocean. Good bye. Our first humpback.

Not long and we spotted a group of three whales cruising near the surface. Water is their element. Effortlessly they seem to glide through the ocean. One ton of food is what they eat every day. What abundance of life there must be underneath the surface.

Although humpbacks lead solitary lives, we find several small groups of whales traveling and feeding together.

This was all great, but nothing compared to “Scream”, a single male humpback that seemed to be in a playful mood. I am not sure if our captain found him or vice versa. As soon as we spotted him our captain turned off the engine and let “Scream” do his magic. First we got a few good showers of fine mist from the blow hole, then he would swim around the boat. He was huge, his pectoral fins like white sails. He would tease us by swimming underneath the boat, letting everybody guessing which side he would turn up. He would raise his head above the water, showing his mouth and chin, all with grace and ease. This went on for half an hour. We could almost touch this animal, although it did not require a physical contact. There was a connection between the covered up, camera toting humans on board and the majestic animal in the ocean.