Les SaintesJanuary-February2023


The Stellwagen Bank is a miniature version of the Grand Banks, situated just north of the tip of Cape Cod, Mass, USA. The  ocean currents bring pelagic fish and the bay brings local fish and lobster. The Seals hang out on Cape Cod, are often seen on the beaches on the east side, and they bask in the sun on the western end of the tip of Cape cod, west of Provincetown. We have anchored there many times, and the anchoring ground is good. The harbor, as is the case often in these waters, is filled with moorings. The Marina offered moorings at a price of $120 a night last we checked, so this called for anchoring while on our way to Maine, or simply passing by as we did in 2022. There may be 50 to 60 feet of water away from the mooring field and this calls for a 400 feet of chain, something few people have, but we do have this - may be that does not help the bow stay dry in a swell however- aboard. 

The navigation is easy, if you can read a chart. Locating the whales is equally easy. THroughout the summer there are boats with the name DOLPHIN ( 9, 10, 11, 12 etc) which are a series of converted crew boats of ferries serving as whale watching tour boats, with a crew, a science observer, and a captain taking many hundreds of tourists a day to see whales. These boats are good marine citizens, keeping a distance so as not to disturb the feeding whales. In our trip we saw three whales in the area. We motored to a respectful distance, letting the telephoto bring us the last few hundred yard. Then turned the engine off and waited. THey came and went, we moved as needed. Other boats did the same, and we did not see a single  skipper break the rules.  

The experience of seeing whales is one that has lasting memory and also never loses its novilty as a discovery of an awe inspiring animal. May be it is their sheer size, may be it is the knowledge that they are satient and intelligent, or simply our misadaptation to the environment at sea, as we stay vulnerable in a glorified walnut shell that we call a boat. We admire, respect, and gawk at them, always welcoming their sight and hoping at the same time that their formidable size does not turn a brush or a mistake, into a disaster for us. Yet, we see them each time though a child's eyes, bouch beante: jaw dropped in awe.


The image above is a .gif file made up of 21 different pictures being displayed for 0.2 to 0.3 seconds each. I used photoshot to create the .gif file, each frame had to be centered, then the whole sequence cropped. You cannot hold a 700 mm lens steady on a boat, and the only way to correct is for each frame.

North of Cape Cod

These waters - from cape cod to the tip of Nova Scotia - are very productive. COld water rich in nutrients, shallow banks in the southern edge of the gulf of Maine, and oxygen rich waters which tides renew with upwellings. All this makes fish plentyful, and at the top of the food chain, the whales feed on plankton and fish, the seals feed on fish, whales and tuna feed on fish, and when they do the birds have a feast. Also the great whites feed on seals and have been seen in the area.