Today's weather was perfect for our whale cruise -- sunny all day
with only a few clouds, a light breeze, low humidity, temps in the 70s
F. We knew the weather had to be good or the Mega Nova wouldn't
go out into the Bay of Fundy.
I got up at 6 AM and saw a bright pink sunrise over low fog in the
valley below the campground (no photos, unfortunately). We didn't see
any fog at 7 when we drove to Brier Island. The early morning light was
so beautiful on the way there and while we were waiting to board the
Mega Nova for our whale cruise.
Westport Harbor in the morning (view from pier where we got on our boat)
Like most of the passengers who had to travel to Westport on Brier
Island via two ferries for the 9:30 AM cruise, we decided to
leave ample room and caught the 7:30 and 8 AM rides to Long and
Some folks came over at 8:30 and 9 and the captain
waited a few minutes for them to board. We didn't want to risk being
left behind or making other passengers wait for us.
Ferry from Brier Island to Long Island after
That meant we had
about an hour to kill after we picked up our tickets in Westport.
drove a short distance out Gulf Rock Road to the bluff overlooking
Westport Harbor, Peters Island, and Grand Passage where we saw such
beautiful scenery yesterday.
This is a picture of
the bluff that I took as our boat passed it as we left the harbor this
Several people were
standing about where I took the next picture of Westport Harbor this
morning before we got on the boat. The harbor was beautiful in the
After a few
minutes we drove back toward town and found a parking spot along the
road fairly close to the pier where the Mega Nova was docked:
waited to board I took more photos of the beautiful harbor and
interesting boats. As you can see, the tide was pretty low:
seaweed is exposed when the tide goes out.
We watched as crew members moved
the Mega Nova closer and prepped it for today's morning cruise:
Although several species of whales
spend the summer in the waters of the North Atlantic, humpback whales
are the most commonly seen on whale cruises in this area because they
are less afraid of watercraft than some of the others.
The M/V Mega Nova derived
its name from the scientific name of the humpback whale, Megaptera
novaeangliae, which translates to "Big Winged New Englander."
These "wings" are fins.
Humpback whales have the longest
appendages in the animal kingdom. Their pectoral fins can reach lengths
of 16 feet, a third of their adult length of 48-62 feet. We saw plenty
of humpbacks today but none of them breached (jumped out of) the water
so we didn't see any pectoral fins except white blurs like these under
This is a photo from
Geographic that shows the entire body of a humpback whale:
Boarding the Mega Nova began
a few minutes before we were scheduled to leave:
We got underway at 9:38 AM and returned to the harbor at 1:10
PM, just in time to catch the 1:30 PM and 2 PM ferries back to
Long Island and Digby Neck.
We went 30 miles in a large clockwise loop around the eastern side of Brier Island
and then farther out into the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Fundy. This is
our Garmin GPS track, starting and ending at Westport, the red dot I added:
We were out on the boat for about 3½
hours, which is average for this tour company. The duration
depends on the weather, currents, and how many whale sightings occur.
We had some good close encounters with several whales and were very
happy with the experience.
I was also happy that Jim took about three dozen pictures. He usually
isn't interested. I've used several of his shots in this entry, too,
including the one above that shows both whales exhaling or
There were about 40 passengers and half a dozen crew members and college
interns on our whale cruise.
Although the Mega Nova doesn't appear very large
it had adequate room for passengers to sit when they wanted and to
stand at the rails to watch the whales and seabirds:
The captain who owns the company has been boating in these waters for 50
years. He's a tour boat operator in the summer and a lobster fisherman
in the winter and spring.
Two 4th-year marine biology students have spent the summer interning
with the company and will finish their undergrad degrees this year. Both
have loved being tour guides and contributing to the marine animal
studies this company has been conducting since 1986.
Whale-watchers love the classic photo-op of water dripping off the
whale's fluke (tail) just before it disappears under the water.
We were about 6th-7th to board and were able to sit in the back corner
where we could see at least two directions quite well. The boat did a
clockwise loop around Brier Island and through the Bay of Fundy.
We were on the island side, where we lucked out and had the best views
of the island and whales.
We could get up and move around while the boat was moving and took the
opportunity later in the cruise to go up to the top level to observe the
last pair of whales we got close to, a mom and her calf:
We feel like we got our money's worth on this cruise and highly
recommend the company.
$68.40 CA total for the two of us. That was a special rate for all the
adults today. The company has several days each season that are
specially priced at $29 CA + tax.
Otherwise, the regular rate is $48 CA per
adult plus a hefty provincial tax. Kids are less. The company has
various discounts -- seniors, referrals from businesses like our
campground, etc. off the regular price.
This may look like one whale but it's two.
Although we didn't see as spectacular scenery or as many different
animals and seabirds as our longer cruise from Seward, Alaska to the
Aialik Glacier two summers ago, we did get up very close to several
humpback whales today.
Whales are the company's focus, and they do a great job finding them.
The crew members even know which whale is which if the boat gets close
enough to identify the underside of their unique tails -- and they
have named each of them. Each whale is given a number, a name, and placed
in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue.
George! (Just kidding. I don't remember who they said this one
We also saw a minke whale from a farther distance (they don't like tour
boats as well as humpbacks) and a finback whale. There are at least a
dozen types of whales this summer in the Bay of Fundy, which is teeming
with food for them.
We also saw several pods of porpoises in Fundy Bay and a couple groups of
harbor seals closer to the island in St. Mary's Bay but we didn't get
any decent photos of them.
Lots more pictures on
the next page . . .
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil