St. Andrews Stories and Tips

The Tail of the Whale or A Tale of the Whale

If you live on the seashore, it might not be a real treat, BUT, take it from me, seeing a whale, even a small whale, close-up is something for an inlander like me!!! And that is exactly what we were able to do on a dreary, overcast afternoon in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick.

Our group of hearty seafarers was not going to let a few raindrops keep us off the boat and out of the Bay of Fundy. In the company of (and with the guidance of!) Cap't Chuck of Surge Tours, our group of six set out in a small craft toward the latest sighting of whales. We journeyed nearly 20 miles out into the Bay and on water at a depth of more than 400'. Along the way we sighted many porpoise, and of course, we thought we were seeing WHALES! The whales were yet to come!

The first whales we saw were Fin Whales. They are not as exciting to view as they do not tend to rise as high above the surface of the sea nor do they flip their tail as other species tend to do. However, they are larger, even the portions we could see attested to that, than many other species present in this area. I was most surprised by how loudly the whales sound when they reach the surface to breath. They can be heard from distances at which they are barely visible.

We continued farther out into the Bay where our Captain contacted other boats also watching whales for the latest sighting areas. It seems the boats all communicate with each other to help insure the guest will get a sighting of a whale. Often one boat will remain with the whale until the next boat arrives. The presence of the boats does not seem to bother the whales as they continue to feed on plankton and small fish.

We followed, at a respectful distance, of course, a Humpbacked Whale for several hours and watched as it repeatedly surfaced and submerged. It is difficult to grasp the gigantic size of these majestic beasts. We were within 200-300 feet of them as they surfaced and without something of a known size to use as a gage, it was still hard to realize how BIG they are!

Our group had as special treat. As we were the last group booked for the day with Cap't Chuck, he kept us out for a longer tour than expected. On the return to the harbor, he took us passed a salmon 'farm'. As we approached hundreds, nay thousands and thousands, of fingerlings jumped from the surface expecting to be fed. The Cap't told us there were more than 1.5 million salmon of various sizes in the location. They are placed in the 'cages' at about 8-9 inches in length and removed about 18 months later weighting an average of 6 pounds. The cages are covered with nets to keep from being a captive feast for seabirds and other predators.

We passed islands where we spotted a Bald Eagle and its nest and many Harbor Seals. Both of these creatures are potential predators of the salmon farm and, at the same time, are protected species.

The cost of the tour was $60 CD per person. I recommend Cap't Chuck as a guide. The Cap't, also a doctorate, by the way, is very knowledgeable about whales and he has prepared several research papers about them. His craft is a speedy boat capable of carrying at the most 6 guests in addition to him. Being a smaller craft it is able to maneuver about and follow the whales more easily than the larger boats or pontoon boats.

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