David Rimmer wrote a big thank you for all the GMG attention. He explained that Mass Wildlife and the Greenbelt Association are working with the City of Gloucester and sends this update:
- “There are 4 pairs of piping plovers at Coffins Beach – 2 pairs on the front beach and 2 pairs on the inside beach.
- 3 pairs are on private land and 1 pair is on Greenbelt land. Mass Wildlife and Greenbelt have been monitoring and managing this area, too, (as with Good Harbor)
at Coffins Beach, one pair has 4 chicks; one pair has 3 chicks; one pair has 2 chicks; and one pair has no chicks.
Greenbelt also has an Osprey Program, which focuses on managing and monitoring nesting Osprey from East Boston to Salisbury.” Greenbelt has set up webcams and platforms. Learn more http://www.ecga.org/what_we_do/osprey_program. Chris Leahy and Marion Larson from Ma Wildlife also mentioned Greenbelt’s fantastic Osprey program.
Coffins/Coffin’s Beach has a community Facebook page, Wingaersheek and Coffin’s Beach Past and Present. There are historic and contemporary photographs. Check out the incredible photo series of deer frolicking by Timmothy Burke Manlee.
The finback whale that has traveled the currents of the Boston and the North Shore to rest, post-Superstorm Sandy, on Cape Hedge beach, was taken apart by a team of hearty souls armed with butcher knives and a whetstone this morning. It looked like bloody hard work, hacking away gigantic pieces of flesh and whale muscle from gigantic bones. Like butchering a school bus. Most of the people wielding the knives looked suitably attired with commercial rain gear covering all the parts that mattered, but a few looked like they had drifted over from the North Shore Mall with only sweatpants — sweatpants! — standing between their own flesh and that of the whale. Thousands of pounds of rotting whale flesh. I’m just guessing that those sweatpants, having absorbed dead whale moisture, are going straight into the trash can just off the beach, as it would be better to ride home naked than wearing sweatpants saturated with the smell of long-dead marine life.
The smell was epic when you were downwind, and on the car ride on the way home the air began to fill with an aroma suspiciously similar to that of our dead friend. It turns out that my 3-year-old managed to step in an infinitestimal string of whale flesh residue. His little shoes will probably be a casualty of the day along with the whale team members’ sweatpants.
It was an amazing sight and hats off to the team from Mass Wildlife and the New England Aquarium and the guy at the Rockport DPW who handled the backhoe with the delicacy of a surgeon. It was a rare privilege to see, here in New England and in this high-tech age, people on the beach breaking down a whale by hand, just like our ancestors. But in this case the whale died of natural causes and even better, he will live on in perpetuity, recreated piece by piece for display in a museum. Experiences like this remind me that living here on Cape Ann is a rare sort of gift.
The spinal cord
Whale butchering as a Family Field Trip! The 6-year-old is grossed out. The 3-year-old seems confused. The baby (not shown) just seems bored.
Jawbones of the whale: the first pieces of the skeleton loaded into the trailer.