I have wonderful news! Take a deep breath; the whales have shown up. It may have taken 7 ½ weeks for them to arrive, but I am happy to report that in our final days of Session 2 the whales increased in numbers from say… 1 or 2, to 10 or 20. They’ve arrived for now and on Sunday afternoon we successfully marked 100+ whale events! (Don’t be confused, we didn’t see 100 individual whales, we marked 100 times when a whale did something). That makes up nearly a fifth of our whale sightings so far this season. I’m happy to report that it is now Monday afternoon and for the past five days we’ve had numerous whales in the Five Finger Area.
While I could not have been more overjoyed at the sight of 20 humpback whales I was sad to say goodbye to the four ladies of Session 2.
I have to admit, when Session 1 left the island I was heartbroken. They were the backbone of our startup operation here at the light and I was unsure that our new recruits (median age, 20; median height 5’1) would be able to fill the shoes left behind (Max shoe size Session 1, 11 ½; Min shoe size Session 2, 6). When I needed cheer, Session 1 would sing to me. To be fair, whether I needed cheer or not they would sing to me. Together we talked through broken hydrophones, balance beam fuel hauls, generator ghosts, dead engines, and missing whales. To top that, Session 1 handled each and every situation, good or bad, with grace. When Session 2 showed up, they had no easy task ahead of them.
As it turns out, they two groups were like night and day. Yet, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade a one of them, and I can only imagine the raucous good time we would have if we had the chance to meet as a single group.
The ladies of Session 2 worked harder and with more enthusiasm than I ever expected or hoped. I have to admit I anticipated giving pep talks on surveying in foul weather, but I didn’t anticipate forcing my interns to come IN from the rain. Nor did I imagine I’d ever have to coerce a seasick intern to come back to the lighthouse just because the whales were vocalizing. The only fault I can find with our Session 2 interns is that they cared too much and they worked too hard. It was inspiring exciting, and admittedly for all of us- a little exhausting. Kudos to them for the waking up for dawn surveys to yell at the fog with me (or to make us pancakes in the case of Meghan- who woke up even though it wasn’t her shift!). Many thanks for teaching me how to work my new iPhone and for broadening my musical taste (Venus, I promise I’m playing that David Choi song at the wedding). Thanks for saying what you always mean (You know who you are), and for never ever complaining about anything (even hauling the 100th gallon of water from the reserve tank… George misses you so much Laur. He’s inconsolable). Ladies I will peek over your shoulders for the rest of your lives with a big smile on my face. I couldn’t be prouder to consider you my friends and colleagues.
But it’s mid-August now, and we are running out of more than just water. We’re running out of time. We have 3 weeks left with the Lovely Ladies of Session 3. It’s our 5th day together on the island and as I write this two of the girls are on their maiden voyage with Noble Steed, two others are carefully watching them from the ivory tower we call the Five Finger Lighthouse. Not a bad way to start the end of a pretty amazing summer.