Whale and Seabird Cruise

One afternoon we took a boat trip from the oddly-named little port of Bay Bulls. This village is close to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, which takes in four offshore islands and the surrounding waters, which are home to millions of seabirds, including puffins (actually a type of auk), murres (another type of auk), fulmars, a few shearwaters, and of course many gulls, including kittiwakes and the common herring gull.

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

We set off! We got a full bill of Irish songs and jokes to wile away the trip out... In the distance, a hint of the sea fog.
The rocky shore, showing clearly the tilted geology.
A sea cave eroded out of the cliffs.
A view of Gull Island, with the air, land, and water all thick with birds, which are here, like the whales, for the capelin, the small but extremely numerous fish. We were able to get quite close to the birds nested on the cliff ledges and in burrows, as you will see.
Kittiwakes: an adult on the right, and a juvenile on the left, judging by its markings, though it seems the same size!
More kittiwakes nesting along the ledges.
Herring gulls.
Common murres.
My favorite: puffins! (Catching puffins on the wing was tough. Though they're not supposed to be the best fliers, preferring to swim underwater like penguins, they're pretty zippy in practice, and even with a fast lens and predictive auto-focus, this is about the best I could do.).
Puffins and their burrows on land. They apparently have sharp claws good for digging.
Isabel hanging on to the railing in her lifejacket, rather windswept.
Finally, a whale! (Spot the puffin flying by in one shot.)

(Again, very tough photographic conditions. It was foggy, and the boat was pitching and rolling considerably. I had to hang on to the railing with one hand, and shoot with the long, heavy camera with the other. Also, my glasses were beaded over with the heavy mist. These pictures were taken at 200mm, times the 1.6x focal-length multiplier, and a bit of cropping, at 1/1000th sec. at f/6.7.)

A puffin taking off from the water.
A shearwater running along the water. Shearwaters are real open-sea birds, and are not often seen near land. (This might be a Greater or Manx Shearwater; I can't quite tell.)
Heading back in, more atmospheric rocky, foggy, wooded coastline.
Isabel and Benjamin get to drive the boat!
Benjamin pondering the sea.
Coming back into the dock.

These pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 10D digital camera. Images were cropped, balanced, etc. with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

schooler@alum.mit.edu