Yeah, trying to sketch out a freakin' whale skeleton is not conducive to a relaxing visit: this was done from below, underneath a full-size specimen that was suspended from the ceiling, hence the weird perspective. I was up for the challenge, being inspired by both a couple touristy opportunities and juxtaposed against a current news event that occurred back in Alaska (more on that later). We had a real special treat with taking a whale-watching cruise from the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company: the three-hour outing took us out of the gulf into the open ocean, and was accompanied by a on-board naturalist/biologist who provided narration and much background information on the habits and history of local species. The catamaran was the the equivalent of being on a rocketship, and I took up a position at the bow, striking salty poses (actually the grimace was from having to go to damn bathroom) (yarrr) and generally grinning like an idiot. Ultimately we were rewarded with a choice sighting of a humpback whale who gave a spectacular and humbling demonstration of the power and beauty these fellow denizens possess by rolling, sounding, tail flipping and a series of breathtaking aerial displays. Infinitely superior to the caged performances touted by corporate circus-acts that diminish if not outright insult the integrity of these creatures, witnessing them in the wild is the way to go. As it happened, the camera batteries died right at the crucial moment (excepting the one money-shot posted below), and there was no way this land-lubber was ever gonna unclench both hands from their death-grip on the railing to sketch anything.
The second counterpart to this outing was a visit to the Bar Harbor Whale Museum, which housed, along with the sketched example posted above, many specimens and artifacts relating to the cultural history of whaling. A non-profit collaborative project jointly funded in part through the College of the Atlantic's marine mammal research group Allied Whale and the Whale Watch Company, this institution provides an immediate context to the experience many people have just had while out on the tour. Besides disseminating important educational knowledge to the general public, they provide crucial resources for scientific understanding, and also works with NOAA to assist in emergency situations such as strandings.