Monday, October 7, 2013

Whales wow passengers with synchronized display

Apparently inspired by the obscure Olympic sport of synchronized swimming, two 40-ton humpback whales named Nile and Patchwork put on an intermittent display of seemingly choreographed and mirrored movements off the Massachusetts coast on Friday.

Synchronized flipper slapping from Patchwork and Nile
Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises

Nile, in the foreground, and Patchwork demonstrate the difficult three flipper stand as Nile is rolled belly up.Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises

Passengers aboard  New England Aquarium Whale Watch, provided by Boston Harbor Cruises, approached two humpback whales resting at the surface near Thacher Island, just off the coast of Cape Ann. While floating at the surface, both whales in near unison started slapping the surface of the water with their 15-long, white-sided flippers. One of the whales named Nile, who was belly up much of the time, slapped with both flippers but with impeccable timing as three monstrous fins stayed in sync.

Rain couldn't damped the excitement of this beautiful display from Patchwork and Nile, as each present the half tail fluke. Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises
To insure that they weren't dismissed as one trick whales, both 45-foot adults started breaching out of the water with their tails again sometimes in rhythm. After all of that activity, both whales started to “log” at the surface, which is scientific speak for taking a well deserved whale nap.

Visitors returned to Boston awed by the normal excitement of having seen some of  the biggest animals to have ever lived on Earth but also by the remarkable display of synchronized swimming.

With the next summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, nationality might an issue for the talented whale pair as they frequent both American and Canadian waters in their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine. Both countries are consistent Olympic medal contenders in the sport. In any case, the Brazilians are going to need a bigger pool!

See more pictures from New England Aquarium Whale Watches on the Whale Watch Log. Climb aboard a whale watch and you might catch these magnificent animals feeding or playing, too. The season ends October 28! Tickets are available online.

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