Humpback Whale feeding on small fish and plankton.
By Young Naturalist C – This summer I went on vacation to Cape Cod with my family and we decided to go on a Whale Watch on the Portuguese Princess. We started by waiting 20 minutes for the boat to take off towards the ocean. After a 1/2 hour boat ride we finally started seeing the whales and the on board educator was pointing out the whales using the clock system (“Whales at 9 o’clock”). We approached slowly as a few whales were feeding on small fish and plankton.
Even though I’m a major tree lover from the time I could climb them, I also love the large diversity of plants and other living things that grow on and underneath trees, including wildflowers, club moss, mushrooms, moss, lichens, liverworts, horsetails and ferns.
Ferns were just interesting green things I used to appreciate but never really thought about identifying until I took a field botany course and found out identifying ferns is really not hard at all! The best book for identifying ferns is Fern Finder, by Anne C. Hallowell and Barbara G. Hallowell.
This particular book is a guide for native ferns of central and northeastern US and Eastern Canada. There is the Pacific Coast Fern Finder, also.
One fern that doesn’t need keying out is the Interrupted Fern (Osmunda Claytoniana). While I read and learned about this unique fern for my class, I never imagined when I first saw it growing at Allegany State Park in May that it would be as tall as it was at that time. The fronds (“leaves”) can grow up to six feet long! Interrupted fern has fertile pinnae (“leaflets”) “interrupting” sterile pinnae in the center of each frond. There are usually two to four pairs of fertile pinnae with dark brown sporangia when they’re ripe. They wither and fall, leaving vacant spots on the leaf stem after midsummer. Here’s what the fertile pinnae looked like at Allegany State Park on May 26th: (more…)