Widower fisherman waits for a sign from his wife, and gets one

Ever since his wife of 19 years died of pancreatic cancer a year and a half ago, Doug Shatford has waited for her to send him a sign.

Early Wednesday evening, he thinks, he may have gotten one.

There was talk in Gloucester of a whale sighting that day. So shortly after 5 p.m., the 57-year-old machinist and recreational fisherman took the 201/2- foot boat named for his wife, Shelly, out about a mile, between Kettle Cove Island and Egg Rock. And sure enough, he could see a couple of whales “dancing” between them, blowing off steam.

And then as suddenly as they appeared, they were gone.

Nearly 10 minutes went by, and Shatford began to see fish near the surface. And then a whale came up, its mouth wide open, as big as Shatford’s boat, he swears, pushing the fish up and into its enormous mouth.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen besides my three kids being born,” he said.

The sun was in Shatford’s eyes, but somehow, he was able to record a brief but clear video of the feeding.

Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said the fish were menhaden, better known as pogies, and the whale was a humpback, distinguishable by the enormous bumps on its head and the white underside of its enormous flippers.

The humpback was lunge feeding, lying low and perpendicular to the water’s surface, and then thrusting itself through the school of fish, LaCasse said.

“I was close to flipping my boat, but it was so peaceful,” Shatford said. “It didn’t startle me at all.”

Then, when it was done feeding, the whale flapped its tail, as if to wave goodbye, and disappeared.

“In that moment, I felt my wife’s presence there,” Shatford said. “The hardest part after she died was raising my kids and trying to absorb their pain, trying to keep her alive so they just didn’t bury it.”

“Seeing this whale just made me feel good,” he said. “Maybe it was a sign that she was there with me, and everything was going to be OK.”

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Source:: Boston Herald

      

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