It was a whale of a time in Crown Bay on Friday morning.
Aboard the tugboat Alpha, crew member Chris Hubbard hailed Capt. Ray Mathison around 9 a.m. to take a look at a spout of water rising about 10 feet into the air nearby. Sure enough, thar she blew. The whale, at the entrance to Krumm Bay then, swam into Crown Bay where the tug personnel saw it again, the tail visible this time.
Mathison alerted V.I. Radio, the local marine radio clearinghouse, to the presence of the animal, both to inform the curious and to warn boaters under way to be cautious in the area.
Mathison's first description of the animal's size was, "Well, let's say it'd give you a heck of a fight on a fly rod." He estimated its length at about 40 feet and said it may have been a humpback and appeared to be in good health. A spate of beachings of sick whales occurred in the territory and on other nearby islands a couple of months ago.
No additional sightings of the Crown Bay visitor have been reported, and it is presumed that the whale returned to wider waters.
The Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John has its annual whale-watch excursions set for Feb. 26 and 27 and March 11 and 12. The boats typically head for the open waters north of the islands in hopes of encountering migrating whales. A southerly route would be exceptional, but, given Friday's sighting, just might pay off. (Tickets are $55 and reservations are essential; call 776-1976 to learn more.)