What causes whales to swim towards shore and strand themselves on land? It’s a mystery that scientists have been studying for years. On May 28th, 1963 a 56 foot Finback whale swam into the Brewster Flats. A team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic institution pushed off in an eight foot pram and herded it into deeper what. Unfortunately their efforts were in vain. The whale swam around the pram and drove itself back into the shallows where it eventually died. The photograph for postcard shown above was taken by John Schram and the postcard was published by Cape Cod Photos. There are many mysteries in life and a mystery novel set on the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown has people talking and waiting for a sequel. Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook available online and at your favorite bookstores, “captures the characters and places perfectly” says one online reader review. Check it out for yourself. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going!
The above postcard sent from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Woodbridge, Connecticut in August 1968, when it cost five cents to mail a postcard, doesn’t say when the Finback whale was stranded. Looking at the buildings, the location is the East End of town, not too far from Dyer and Washington Streets. It’s when you see all the people gathered around that you start to comprehend the immense size of the whale. It’s very sad. One of the largest baleen whales,
adult Finback whales can reach an average size of 60 feet and weigh close to 50 tons. Scientists estimate the Finback whale and other large baleen whales have life spans of about 60 to 70 years. Walking along the beach, one never knows what you will find. A clue to a mystery, perhaps or some insight into why whales beach themselves. If the newspaper in Remaining in Provincetown, The Provincetown Observer were real, it would have been a front page story. The publisher and editor Roze Silva, however, finds other things that will make headlines. What’s everyone talking about? Check it out by reading the book, available at local bookshops and online in trade paperback and as an ebook. Like us on Facebook and join the conversation.
The Finback whale shown in this antique postcard which was mailed in 1918, at first glance looks as if it beached on the Provincetown shore. But on closer examination, and from reading the caption on the photograph, the sad truth is this whale was hunted and killed for its blubber oil. Currently an endangered species, the Finback is the second largest animal in the world. (The Blue Whale is the largest) It has been described by naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews as “the greyhound of the sea”. Since the mid 1980’s whale watching has become a way for visitors to Cape Cod to observe these handsome mammals. Often sighted in the waters on the tip of Cape Cod are primarily Humpback Whales as well as a few Finback Whales.
This particular whale in the vintage postcard above was killed by Captain Joshua Nickerson while at the command of the steamer the A.B. Nickerson. It was one of the largest of the Finback species ever taken in Provincetown and measured 65 feet and 4 inches in length and weighed 136 tons. According to the book Provincetown written by Herman Atwell Jennings, “in 1886 the steamer and a facility for processing whales was built at Herring Cove near the Race Point Lighthouse and in 1889 a wharf was extended from shore four hundred feet to enable the factory steamer to bring the whales and other fish alongside to be handled.” A number of the streets in Provincetown have the names of the early families that include Nickerson, Snow, and Dyer. Small towns have their secrets. Want to gain a more intimate sense of the town and its inhabitants? You’ll want to read the new novel Remaining in Provincetown, now available at Amazon.com. Like us on Facebook and you may win a FREE copy.