Tag Archives: Whales

Discovery Channel at Ocean Alliance


Ian Kerr Discovery Channel interview ©kim Smith 2014 copyIain Kerr Interview with Discovery

Sunday morning Discovery Channel News was at Ocean Alliance filming a story about SnotBot, the organization’s new drone. The drone was created by a group of Olin College of Engineering students, under the direction of Professor Drew Bennet, in the College’s robotics lab.

Drew Bennet Olin College studentys Snot Bot ©Kim Smith 2014. JPG

“SnotBot will be used to collect DNA, bacteria, viruses and stress hormones from whale blows. The team also tested SnotShot, a machine that makes a simulated whale blow (with the capacity to simulate different blow types) on demand—a testing tool that will actually help the scientists in the field collect a control sample.

Olin College students Snot Bot ©kim Smith 2014

The SnotBot drone works something like this: “as SnotBot flies out to a whale that is approximately 300m from the research vessel, it hovers over a whale and the whale repeatedly blows onto a collection device. After the sample is collected and brought back to the RV Odyssey, the data is used to help interpret an animal’s state of heath through the analysis of bacteria, viruses, DNA, and stress hormones recovered from the whale’s blow.”

Read More from the Olin College of Engineering Website Here

Snot Bot Ocean Alliance Archives Here

Captain Dominic ©Kim Smith 2014Gorgeous View from the Paint Factory of the Captain Dominic Fishing Boat

See More Photos Here

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What the Fluke

I will swim with a humpback whale some day.

It’s at the top of my bucket list for sure.

I actually planned a vacation to Costa Rica several years ago for the opportunity to swim with the whales in Drake Bay, but sadly, no whales were in the area during my stay.

I have, however, had the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, black tip reef sharks, and manatees.  Each of those experiences are kind of sacred to me.  All are moments that I will never forget.

While swimming with wild marine life may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you haven’t been on at least one amazing whale watch, you are missing out.  We are incredibly fortunate to have whales not far off our coast for a good part of the year.  I, all kidding aside, sometimes find myself laying awake at night thinking, “I wonder what the whales are doing right now?” Freak meter rating high, I realize, but true nonetheless.

So, today, knowing that the whales have been plentiful for the past several days, we went for a trip with Cape Ann Whale Watch.  How do I know they’ve been plentiful you may ask?  I follow their blog.

I had the opportunity to speak with both long time owners, Nick Danikas and Jim Douglass, in the parking lot prior to the trip.  Both are great guys who are pretty passionate about offering trips that leave guests with memories to last a lifetime.

Likewise, the crew and the naturalists are phenomenal and beyond highly educated on the matter of whales and sea life indigenous to our waters. Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Even the captain, John Karvelas, was excitedly pointing out bubble clouds as they formed on the surface of the water.  Bubble clouds are a method that whales use to trap krill and sand eels in a tight school so that they can emerge, mouths open, and swallow up a giant meal.

Today’s trip was nothing short of amazing.  To begin, we only had to head 11 miles off the Dog Bar Breakwater, which was a treat in itself.  After a short steam, we were literally surrounded by humpback whales.  I’ve been on many whale watches.  Both on local whale watching boats and on smaller private boats. Today’s trip was one for the record books.

Click Here for more information about Cape Ann Whale Watch

Hear are some of my favorite photos from today’s trip.

 

Pod of Whales Spotted off the Gloucester Coast!

breechsplash mouthandbirdKathleen Erickson writes ~

Hi Kim,

If you can, you may want to post these photos I took yesterday off Tilly’s Bank – 24 miles due east of Gloucester Harbor. Everybody wants to see the whales after a down year last year. But, here they are, playful, engaged, and very lively – back again!divetailsunsetWhalePeriscop

4 More Days of School Lunches to Pack!!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we Schraffts are summer people. Let there be no mistake that I love my job… and I mean no offense to my amazing little students, but the count down to summer vacation is almost more excitement than I can even stand.  Total giddiness….epic warm fuzzies.

Sure, beach days, quick getaways, sleeping in, music on lawns, margaritas on decks, sushi feeding frenzies, long nights by the fire pit and dirty, salty, and happy kids = a happy mom, but one of the most exciting parts of summer vacations is NO MORE LUNCH PACKING.

Possibly you can’t relate to this.  So forgive me.  But, lunch packing is my least favorite thing…ever.  It isn’t that its hard…it is just so damn Ground Hog’s Day.  Unpack the lunch boxes, soak the containers, wash, rinse, dry….and repack.  Ugh.  It doesn’t necessarily help that I started to put a little photo in each of the boys’ lunch boxes when they were toddlers and now neither of them will let me stop.  SOOOO….factor in the “pick-a-photo-and-wrap-it-in-the-shark-print-cloth-napkins-that-they-like-to-use” step…and I’m S.P.E.N.T.

That brings me to my point.  The school where I teach…and that my boys attend…has a “Green Initiative”.  It is suggested, but obviously not mandated, that the children have as little trash as possible in their lunch boxes.  Now, complain as I have about the process of packing lunches, I am more than happy to do my part to not only leave a smaller footprint, but to also teach my boys that we need to be conscious of our impact on our environment and good friend, Planet Earth.

So, we buy big containers of yogurt and scoop daily amounts into small lunch containers.  My boys drink ice water from reusable water bottles and don’t use juice boxes, etc.  We don’t use little snack bag sized things like goldfish or chips…we just throw a handful or so into one of their reusable containers from the bigger bag.

The boys and I were talking earlier about the fact that today is World Oceans Day and that caused me to remember a friend’s reaction when she saw me packing the boys’ lunches one evening. It had never occurred to her to pack lunch “that way” (as she put it) and she was happy to start.

So, while packing lunches as a whole will remain annoying to me, I guess I am at least happy that we are doing our part.  I’m glad the boys are learning a lesson….and, if there happens to be an ocean animal living life better somewhere because of our lack-of-lunch-trash then ever better.  A win-win.

 

Happy (day after) World Oceans Day!!

Check out photos of the humpbacks feeding out on Stellwagen Bank from Cape Ann Whale Watch.  

 

Whale Safe Green Lobster Band Article From Jay Lindsay-AP

Mass. lobstermen promote practices as whale safe

BOSTON (AP) — New green rubber bands that will bind the claws of Massachusetts lobsters beginning this weekend won’t save the lobsters from the dinner table. But they signify a state initiative aimed at saving whales.

Lobsters caught in state waters will be given the bands, stamped “Massachusetts” and depicting whale tails, to highlight the state’s efforts to make the seas safer for whales by requiring lobstermen to use rope to connect their traps that rests on the ocean floor, rather than line that floats and could entangle whales.

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