New tee shirt helps Milford remember the whale

A humpback whale that visited Milford last week has left more than memories and video images behind.

The Milford fisherman who shared his video of the whale has designed a tee shirt that captures the memory and will be sold to raise money for a local charity.

Mark Tutino was apologetic about the expressions that could be heard in the video of the whale breaching. There were a few exclamations not fit for tender ears, but Tutino explained, “I was excited.”

Tutino and his friend were out on a boat about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, between Welches Point and Charles Island when they spotted the whale breaching.

“We were driving toward the Bayview area when I saw what turned out to be mist from the blowhole,” he said. “We stopped the boat and were looking off the bow in the area I saw the mist and it breached to the left of the boat. We didn’t see it as we were looking the other way, just heard the loud crash. I turned the boat around and started trailing in the general direction we thought it was heading. That’s when I got the video.”

Tutino’s humor can be seen on the tee shirt. The shirt quotes him. The words, “Dude, That’s A ?#@*&%! Whale” appear next to the image of a whale and above the words “Milford, Connecticut.”

Tutino, a longtime member of the Milford Kiwanis Club, said the shirts will sell for $20, and all proceeds will go to Keeping Milford Warm.

According to the Keeping Milford Warm Facebook page, the non-profit organization was created and founded by Kevin McGrath through the Milford Kiwanis Club to benefit the city of Milford Emergency Fuel Program.

Tutino, an avid fisherman who has been fishing Milford waters for all of his 49 years, said he’s not a graphic designer. He’s a financial advisor and runs his own company, Tutino Financial, LLC. But he has a couple of friends who are graphic designers and they helped him with the shirt.

People can email if they are interested in purchasing a shirt. He said he may also sell them at Bobby J’s Bait and Tackle on New Haven Avenue.

Experts at the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) watched Tutino’s video last week and said it was a humpback whale.

“Our whale people agree it’s a humpback,” said Teri Frady, chief of research communications at NOAA. “There have been more sightings around the New York City area this year and last than in past years. While it’s not exactly common to see them in the Sound, it’s not really rare either.”

Jason Jadach, owner of Bobby J’s Bait and Tackle, speculated that the large amount of bait in Milford waters this year may have drawn the whale in.

According to the NOAA website, humpback whales are well known for their long “pectoral” fins, which can be up to 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. Their scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means “big-winged New Englander.”

“Humpback whales are the favorite of whale watchers, as they frequently perform aerial displays, such as breaching (jumping out of the water), or slapping the surface with their pectoral fins, tails, or heads,” the site states.

“During the summer months, humpbacks spend the majority of their time feeding and building up fat stores (blubber) that they will live off of during the winter,” NOAA explains. “Humpbacks filter feed on tiny crustaceans (mostly krill), plankton, and small fish and can consume up to 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) of food per day.”

Tutino's video is below.