Not a Fluke at All


Guests on Monday’s Signature Whale Watch got to see 7 different Humpbacks. We spent most of our time with a pod of two adults about 2 miles off Spencer Beach Park. These whales were surfacing and spouting 3 or 4 times before disappearing from our sight for 8 minute dives. One of the pod showed his flukes on each dive, but the other just sort of sank below the surface and then reappeared next to the fluke-diver each time. When we deployed our hydrophone, we all got to hear some pretty clear singing. We estimated the singer was about 3 or 4 miles away from us. And towards the end of our cruise some of us even got to see a breach (the rest of us got to see the splash from the breach).
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: On today’s Whale Watch we saw one whale’s flukes so often that we started thinking about the etymology of the word “fluke”. We know that the triangular blade of an anchor is called a fluke, and since a whale’s tail sort of resembles an anchor, that made sense. But why would we call a weird occurrence a “fluke”? So I looked it up…”Fluke” comes from the German word “flugel” which means wing (that makes sense, because a whale’s tail looks a little like a wing). The phrase “just a fluke” is of unknown origin, but it was first used to describe a lucky shot in billiards. Since there’s a fish also called a “fluke” — it’s a flounder — the phrase might have come about as a pun on “floundering” In other words, if you “make a fluke”, you’re just floundering, and your success is merely due to luck.

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