Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Today the whales were plentiful and yet so were the waves! The forecast was for minimal wind but clearly that was not the case. Even with the extra motion of the ocean the whales did not mind. This morning we saw four minke whales, five fin whales, three humpback whales and a pod of 20-25 Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
First fin whale of the day
Dolphins zipping through the water
Our dolphins turned out to be swimming in association with a pair of fin whales. Our humpback whales were associated with themselves and included Jabiru, Spoon and Spoon's 2018 calf.

Dolphin swimming near a fin whale

Spoon and her 2018 calf
Spoon's calf tail breaching while Spoon and Jabiru are at the surface
This afternoon we found a pod of 20 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and they were in association with the same three humpback whales we had seen during our morning trip. In addition, we saw a minke whale and even a pair of fin whales swim past the area.
Afternoon look at Jabiru's tail
The humpback whales were occasionally being active, allowing for some impressive looks at different kinds of breaching from all three of the individuals. Seeing a single breach is impressive but between all three whales there were at least 23 breaching behaviors recorded from all of these mammals!
Spoon breaching!!!

Jabiru breaching
Dolphins swimming alongside Spoon
The aftermath of an adult humpback whale breach; that's a HUGE splash!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

No matter what the conditions are like above the ocean's surface a whale needs to breathe and thus must rise to the surface to exhale and inhale. Therefore, no matter if it is sunny, cloudy, windy or rainy whales will still surface to breathe and that's the moment we get a chance to experience them. This morning we saw seven minke whales, 30-40 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, three fin whales and three humpback whales.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Our pod of dolphins became briefly associated with one of our fin whales, Bolshoi, and our humpback whales included Jabiru, Spoon and Spoon's 2018 calf.
Bolshoi the fin whale

Great shearwater near our dolphins
Our humpback whales spent most of the morning napping while other baleen whales were busy darting around the area.
Spoon the humpback whale
Spoon and her calf
This afternoon we saw six minke whales, four fin whales, the same trio of humpback whales and an ocean sunfish.
Our first sighting this afternoon was a minke whale inside the Rye Harbor mile-marker buoy!
Minke whale surfacing as the rain drops fell
Ocean sunfish
Bolshoi remained in the area offshore and was doing lots of tight circles at the surface.
Fin whale spout
Spoon's calf slapped its flippers a few times but otherwise, the humpback whales continued to be very mellow. So much wildlife to look at and enjoy today even through the raindrops!
Whale tail
Trio of humpback whales at the surface
Jabiru and Spoon

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

The 8:30 trip started out with a couple of less-than-cooperative minke whales and a small handful of dolphins. We began to wonder if we’d get good looks at anything as the clock was ticking.  But then we came upon a pod of about 50 Atlantic white sided dolphins milling about with a couple more minke whales that were close by!  

As we were investigating a grey seal that was imitating a leatherback sea turtle (you folks on the trip know what I’m talking about….), a trio of humpback whales surfaced! Amazing!   These turned out to be Spoon, her calf, and another female named Jabiru! 

We saw this trio yesterday afternoon so it was fun to see that they were still together!  A fin whale came by, and even from a distance, we could tell that it was Bolshoi, a male first seen in 1980! 

Another fin whale appeared as well but we couldn’t identify that one.

This afternoon, we did some searching before arriving at the “one-stop whale watching area”!  As we slowed down, we could see dolphins, minke whales, fin whales and humpback whales all around the boat at the same time! A grey seal was also floating about! We began with the dolphins- a pod of about 50 or so. 

 Then we saw a minke whale. Two new humpback whales had moved into the area. I’m not sure who these are yet but they are whales I haven’t seen yet this summer! 

Minke whales continued to scoot around us while the fin whale named Bolshoi was seen again!  

Then we got great looks at Spoon, her calf, and Jabiru, still hanging out together!!  Spoon’s calf was rolling around, slapping its flippers and even tail-breaching (tossing it’s posterior end out of the water causing a big splash).  Baby whales are so much fun to watch!  

Another fin whale was seen along with a couple more minke whales before it was time to head to the barn.

For birds, all the shearwaters were out in force, along with a few Wilson’s storm petrels, some red-necked phalaropes, a few northern gannets. We had a hot report of a Skua near the Isles of Shoals on the morning trip but we were unable to locate the avian pirate. Skuas are known to harass other birds to steal whatever they have caught rather than fishing for themselves.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday was a fun day of whale watching!  In the morning, we spotted a few minke whales before finding 4 fin whales! These whales were in the same area, but not hanging out together. We could tell they were 4 different whales just based on the fin shapes which were very different from each other.  One of these was a whale named Bolshoi, first seen in 1980! He has scars from both a boat strike as well as an entanglement!  

Another of the fin whales had no dorsal fin at all. That may have been due to an entanglement. 

The third whale had entanglement scars behind its fin. 

As I said on the boat, these whales face many threats, and these whales with the scars are the lucky ones….who survived.

Next we found a pair of humpback whales. This was Spoon and her 11th documented calf!  As we were leaving these to, a fin whale popped up close by! This turned out to be one of the 4 we were watching earlier! The whales really get around! 

Another pair of humpbacks was seen next: Jabiru and her 2nd calf! They only were spotted briefly before heading on their way.

We checked out another area on our way home and found a big pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins feeding while hundreds of birds were soaring and diving, also feeding on the school of fish!  Four species of shearwaters were seen in this frenzy along with a jaeger, some Wilson’s storm petrels and of course gulls.

This afternoon, we found a pod of about 25 Atlantic white sided dolphins. The birds weren’t with them but we got some great looks as they swam close to our boat!

We saw a couple of tall spouts in the distance but never actually found the whales that were creating them. I assume they were fin whales, but we will never know.    We moved on to see 2 pairs of humpback whales nearby. These were the same pairs that we saw on the morning trip, but now they were all together!  

After a brief look at Jabiru and her calf, the calf decided to venture off on its own, leaving just the 2 moms and one calf. Spoon’s calf breached clear out of the water! Then the youngster began to roll at the surface, slapping its flippers on the water and slashing its tail back and forth. 

This may be been the calf’s way of letting Spoon know that it was hungry and wanted to nurse.  While we waited for this group to resurface, several minke whales were spotted close by as well!  Great day!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When we left the harbor this morning we were surrounded by thick hazy fog. Just like whales we can't control the weather and luckily the visibility continued to improve as we searched for whale life today. This morning we saw 12 minke whales, 4 humpback whales, Bolshoi the fin whale and 10-15 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. There was never a shortage of minke whales to be seen throughout the entire day! We spent some time watching our humpback whales, two mother-calf pairs, mostly resting at the surface.
Spoon's large flipper in the air as she slowly rolled on her side with her calf close by
These whales were so mellow allowing for some incredible looks at Spoon with her 2018 calf and Jabiru with her 2018 calf.
Bolshoi the fin whale was on the move through the area and after a bit of searching we were excited to find our small pod of toothed-whales!
Fin whale surfacing
This afternoon the moving boat helped to keep us cool as we ventured offshore. We first spent time with a pod of 250 Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins (above and below)

We also had 4 fin whales. Some of these massive whales were on the move while others circled around.
Afternoon fin whale
Fin whale dorsal fin
Throughout the trip we saw at least 15 minke whales. We also saw Spoon, Jabiru and their respective calves which at one point were all together! This association was brief and soon the pairs split from each other, each going off in their own directions. Spoon's calf got a big wiggly as we were fortunate to witness some breaching, lob-tailing and flipper slapping, mainly from Spoon's calf this afternoon.
Spoon's calf!
Too big of a lens on for this breach!
Lob-tailing behavior
Spoon's calf (left) and Spoon (right)
Perhaps the ultimate shock of the day was when Spoon herself breached clear out of the water! She is one large female and I imagine that took A LOT of energy. Unfortunately, that memory will live on in our minds for I did not capture that incredible feat with the camera.