Sir Winslow watches the whales
Blue whales are magnificent ocean creatures. Sir Winslow sailed on a voyage that followed a pod of whales for days before they lost track of them. It gave him plenty of opportunities to study how they interacted with each other, even with the ships that were tracking them. The sketches that are in the journals from Sir Winslow's voyage are quite detailed. Here is the story the accompanies them.
It was late summer and Sir Winslow was headed back to Windy Willows in England. He had been studying the lemmings on Baffin Island. Lemmings are interesting creatures on their own, but for today we will stick to our story of the whales. Except for this cute picture of a lemming.
Baffin Island is situated on the north side of the Foxe Basin, which for most of the year is icebound. Sir Winslow knew he had to get his ship safely into the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean before he became stuck for the winter. The Foxe Basin is home to the bowhead whale, there were about 500 whales in the stock around the time Sir Winslow was there. He hadn’t been doing specific research on them so this is from later gathered data that I have done.
Bowhead whales were one of the first whales to be hunted for oil. It actually started in the 1600s and lasted until the early 20th century. The majority of the hunting was done in the 1800s and was drawing to a close during Sir Winslow’s expeditions. Bowhead population is now on the rise and is only considered slightly endangered.
Back to our story...Sir Winslow had set sail and was making his way out of the Foxe Basin toward the Atlantic to return home. It was getting colder quickly that far north and he knew it would be a close call not to get caught in a storm that would cause chaos aboard the ship. As they headed south there were clouds gathering to the west. All of the sails were unfurled so they could make the most of the winds blowing them home.
Suddenly there were some bumping noises at the stern. Sir Winslow was concerned there was damage to the keel that had gone unnoticed. He went to the back of the boat and what a sight! There were at least 10 bowhead whales following his ship. At intervals, they would gently bump into the ship and give it an extra boost. This went on for several hours as the ship cruised safely out of the area.
The stock of whales stayed with the ship for a long while after. Almost as a thank-you for not harming them as so many others had done. Sir Winslow was able to use this time to observe them and watch the interactions of the group.
Our whale pencil pouch is made from the sketches in Sir Winslow’s Expedition logs and can be found here: Whale Pencil Pouch