Happy New Year!  

I love the feeling of possibility that comes with the date January 1st.  It's weird how that little date can elicit a feeling of anticipation, and hope for all that is achievable in the new year.  Every day is a new opportunity for growth, and change, and wonder and optimism, and yet we save that feeling for the first day of the year - okay, maybe the first few days of the year, if we are lucky.

I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go whale watching this week.  This first wonderful week of the new year.  And boy did we hit the jackpot.  

I have been whale watching before.  Quite a few times before.  I have been blessed to see grey whales, and humpback whales, and fin whales.  Last year in winter we didn't see any whales, but we were blessed with a stampede of dolphin.  AMAZING!

Now don't get me wrong, not every whale watching venture has been a success. Some trips we didn't see any whales, and sometimes when we do see whales it's not very exciting. Fin whales are an example. Fin whales are big. BIG! They are second only to blue whales in size. Wow, you might think. They must be amazing to see. And they are, kinda. You know that you are seeing a fin whale because the captain of the boat, or the Aquarium representative that comes along for the ride tells you it is, but all you see is the back of the whale as it comes up for air. Yes, you see that spout as it exhales out of it's 2 blowholes, and you see it's dorsal fin as it dives back into the deep, but there's no classic tale slapping the water that you see with grey whales. No stripes of the humpback. Just a huge, dark back that rises and sinks again.

Kind of like this.

So when I heard fin whale were possibilities this trip, I was honestly a little disappointed.  (Talk about spoilt, right?)  Boy was I wrong. Yes, it there were fin whale. But they were anything but boring.  Arriving close to where the whales were spotted, the first thing that was noticeable was the bird life. So. Many. Birds. It was crazy. There were seagulls, and pelicans and who knows what else. I am not a bird person. I don't know my sea birds. I just know there were a lot of them.  And a few dolphin.

What happened next was not anticipated by anyone on board. The whales (there were 2) were feeding. Lunge feeding. Essentially, what that means, is that the whale lunges toward the surface of the water with its mouth wide open. A fin whale is a big whale, and it has a huge mouth. HUGE!  And that mouth is made larger by way of its lower jaw which expands kind of like a pelican's beak. The whale catches its prey in its enormous mouth, and then filters the water out through keratin 'hairs' on its upper jaw called baleen.  Oh my word. It was almost impossible to believe what you were seeing. And it happened so fast.  

I am just going to post the pictures. They are in order of occurrence, and cover three separate instances of lunge feeding. The whale's jaw is easily identified, and the baleen is visible. The black and white stripes are the 'pouch' of the lower jaw which stretches out to maximize the amount of water and prey the whale can take in.

The final 2 pictures are of a whale swimming away from the boat at sunset, and was simply the best way to end the day.

I guess my point with all of this is to encourage you to get out there this year. Go do stuff. Go see stuff, even stuff you think you've seen before. Marvel at the wonder of nature, and life and what each day can offer. 

Leave any comments you might have at the end of the post.  Tell me what you hope for from 2017.  What you are excited about.  What you are going to get out there and see this year.

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