here come the humpbacks FOR REALS!

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Ever since visiting Nova Scotia two summers ago, I’ve been longing for a glimpse of a real humpback whale. Sure, I did my homework, reading books, watching films and videos from whale sightings while illustrating Here Come the Humpbacks! During that trip I saw plenty of signs for whale watching, but we traveled constantly, with no time for a cruise.  I began working on the book in the fall of 2011, just past the season when humpbacks are in the Gulf of Maine. My wish for our recent return to Nova Scotia was to see some whales at last.

We drove from Pubnico, Nova Scotia with our host, Nicole, to East Ferry, a fishing village along Digby Neck. We passed Sandy Cove along the way, taking note of the extreme low tide for which Nova Scotia is famous.


We boarded the Petite Passage, a 45 foot Cape Island style boat that doubles as a lobster and scallop fishing vessel in another season.


Captain Craig Theriault has been lobstering since he was 14, and knows the local waters well.


The weather was so glorious, we couldn’t have been more psyched!


We headed into the Bay of Fundy and sure enough, someone spotted a whale! This one is known as Sedge, and is easily recognized by his unusual fin, possibly a bite taken out of it.


What a breathtaking moment, my soul leaped at the sight of these immense beings, just yards from the boat. You have to see it to believe it. One of the crew, Suzanne, an artist and nature guide, narrated the action, and shared these pages of frequently spotted humpbacks, identified by their unique tail markings.


Others with better cameras no doubt captured more, but this glimpse of tail slipping into the water is my witness to supreme grace.


We got a few waves of the mighty flipper, too.


Once the humpbacks dove, the entire boat waited eagerly for the next spout of the ripest smell you can imagine. After awhile, Captain Craig needed to move aside for other boats waiting in the wings of this whale theater. Only two boats are allowed within proximity at once. One of the four humpbacks cavorting about our boat separated and was soon followed by a Zodiac. We headed back to shore, and came upon a humpback “logging.” Humpbacks need to breath every so often, so sleeping doesn’t happen in the deep. They loll at the surface, and one side of their brain reminds them to breathe. Bobbing in place, the blowhole submerges and then surfaces with each exhale.

I gave a copy of my book to Suzanne, who was circulating and answering questions. She said she’d be a whale in another life and loves her job.


She immediately shared it with a family who enjoyed the story as we sailed back to port.


The captain slowed down for seal and lighthouse sightings.


We arrived back at East Ferry, amazed and enlightened by our encounters, full of fresh air and wonder. Thanks, Petite Passage! You made our trip complete.

We headed up the Acadian shore, stopping in Mavilette for dinner, astounded by the smooth beach with no crowd.


Daisy here pretty much sums up the joy we all felt.


Back in Maine now, I’m preparing for another book outing: this Saturday, August 17, I’ll be sharing my tale of whales at the Camden Library’s 8th Annual Children’s Book Fair-by-the-Sea from 1 – 4 PM, along with Hazel Mitchell, Betsy Thompson, Stephen Costanza, and Ellen Potter. This promises to be a great romp in a lovely library with a crew of cheerful cohorts.

Meanwhile, if you want to play like a whale, try this free downloadable migration game right here. Thanks to Curious City for making it splashy!



  1. That must have been such an exciting, breathtaking experience. I want to go on a whale watch cruise some day. Oh how I wish to do that!

    I’m so grateful that I saw the words “Hazel Mitchell liked this article” on Facebook, because it led me to your blog and to this wonderful post. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Beth, for reading my blog. I hope you get your moment with whales someday soon!

  3. Dear Jamie,

    this is so wonderful!!!
    You made my heart jump with this nice beautiful story!

    Thank you so much for including us, Petite Passage whale watch and the Captain and me into this.

    I have shown and shared your book frequently, especially on the way back after seeing the whales our small passengers are very taken by the book and some of the parents have asked me for paper and pen to write down the name and the puplisher!

    Have a wonderful summer and we hope to have you back on the boat soon!

    Love Suzanne

    • Suzanne,

      I will definitely be back for another trip with you folks! It was an incredible trip.
      Thanks for sharing the humpback book! Glad it comes in handy with small and curious passengers. Yay!



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