Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28

The whales continue to leave us in awe. We had so much whale activity surrounding us there wasn't enough time to check everything out! Today we spent time watching 8 sei whales, 4 humpback whales, a quick glance of a minke whale and a pod of 10-15 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. And if you are a bird fan our dedicated birding friends counted over 500 northern gannets flying around all the whale activity! Most of the whales we saw were actively feeding at the surface. Sei whales were skim feeding and lunging through the water while humpback whales were kick feeding and creating bubble clouds.
Sei whale skim feeding

Humpback whale surface feeding
Our humpback whales were identified as Shuffleboard, Nile, Owl and her 2017 calf! Owl is one of our favorites and also a Blue Ocean Society adoptable whale!
Humpback whale tail
Nile
Owl
Owl and her calf moving through the water
Perhaps the icing on the cake for the day was a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins on the move through the area. They charged and leaped through the waves giving us such an appreciation of the speed, agility and size of these toothed whales.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins zipping through the waves

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday, May 27

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! The unofficial start of summer has arrived and with that the start of the weekend could not have been more impressive. We had saw six different types of whales today; so much to look at! Our sightings today included 2 fin whales inshore of the Isles of Shoals, 4 minke whales, 20 sei whales, 1 highly endangered North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale #0050 and a pod of 10 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Wow, what a list!
Fin whale
Almost all of the sei whales were actively feeding at the surface. At one point we literally could not move as we were surrounded by whales in all directions lunging through the water.
Multiple sei whales at the surface
Sei whale lunging through the water
The flipper of one sei whale is visible above the surface while another sei whale swims on its side feeding barely beyond
Sei whale with its mouth open swimming past us
If only every day was just as active but that's why wildlife is so amazing. Never will we know what, where, and how much life we will encounter on any single day. Nature will always have us giddy to learn what may be out there!
Incoming whale!
Humpback whale #0050

Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21

If you could imagine a great day of whale watching today would be one of those days. The weather was perfect with seas calm and the sun shining as we headed offshore today. The calm seas meant any good-sized disturbance had the potential for our target activity: whales. Little did we know what we had in store for us. We ended up seeing 21 whales and that does not include the spouts we saw out on the horizon and just didn't have the chance to get to! The breakdown of our whales toady included 6 fin whales, 6 humpback whales and 9 sei whales!
One of the many fin whale spotted today

Skim-feeding sei whales swimming in towards each other
Single and pairs of fin whales were around as humpback whales popped up here and there. The humpback whales we identified today included Veteran, Nine, Willow, Spoon and Cirrus.
Veteran the humpback whale
Willow the humpback whale
Trio of humpback whales at the surface: Spoon, Cirrus and Willow
However, it was the sei whales that stole the spotlight today! This species can often go unseen during a season so not only were we lucky to come across so many of these speedy baleen whales but they were actively feeding as well!
Close-up of a sei whale feeding at the surface
Side lunge-feeding sei whale
We witnessed multiple sei whales skim-feeding and lunge feeding through the water. Incredible moments in incredible conditions meant today was quite the picture perfect day.

Sei whales crossing paths as they were feeding in every which direction!

Synchronized open-mouth feeding sei whales
A representation of just how wide a sei whale can open its mouth to capture as much food as possible in every single mouthful!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday, May 20

The spring season always provides a bit of anxiety since we have to wait so long (a full week!) to get back out to search for marine mammals. Today we got the chance to see more familiar whales return for another feeding season. In total we saw 2 fin whales, 6 minke whales and 6 humpback whales. Our humpback whales included #0050, Sabot, Mogul and our first mother/calf pair of the season; Flash and calf! Note just how unique each humpback whale's black and white natural markings can be!
Our first humpback whale of the day; #0050!
Mogul
Flash
A few of our humpback whales were creating bubble clouds which is great news knowing that bubble clouds are used to corral food. Lots of food = a good chance of whales being around! On on way home we even had a few more surprises seeing fin whale Crow and humpback whale Veteran!
This may not look like much but even this distant snapshot of a fin whale is enough to confirm it is Crow the fin whale!
We love the chance of surprises at any moment when you are spending time surrounded by nature. Tomorrow is looking beautiful so hopefully we will get a chance to enjoy more time with some massive mammals!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Welcome to the 2017 season!

The time has finally arrived for another season of whale watching! Winter can soon become a distant memory as we switch gears to summer sun and searching for whales. Granted the summer weather is far from arriving as we headed out in gray skies and air temperatures of 48 degrees on the water yesterday! Luckily for us though the whales are busy using the cold and productive feeding grounds offshore. Excitement to be back on the water, wondrous of what/who we might find and eagerness to explore some familiar areas were just some of the emotions going through our minds, and that was just the crew! The day started with a large and slightly elusive fin whale. We caught some glimpses of this massive whale before it continued traveling along and we were anxious to get out to Jeffreys Ledge. Thanks to our research friends at Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation who tirelessly maintain a Fin Whale Catalog of the Jeffreys Ledge area, we were able to match up our first whale of the season to a fin whale first spotted in this region in 2008!
First whale of the 2017 season: Fin whale #0813
As our travels took us onward we ended up checking out, and passing by, a total of 5 minke whales for the day. We also spent some time with another massive fin whale. This was another familiar "friend" for us. Fin whale #9709, a known female, was seen circling around the area. This whale has been spotted over the years since 1997!
Fin whale #9709
We soon spent some time searching around and ended up seeing a different species out in the distance. It was a humpback whale and one we did not recognize right away. After some sleuthing through the Humpback Whale Catalog we were able to match this newcomer to Doublet, a whale that is most often sighted off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada!
Doublet the humpback whale
We always say the whales are constantly moving around the Gulf of Maine searching for food. Perhaps this whale decided to stop for a quick meal or two in our part of the ocean before venturing on north!
Humpback whale at the surface
Our last whale of the day was a VERY familiar whale to us. It was Hornbill the humpback whale; an adoptable whale.
It never gets old being lucky enough to find an old "friend" in the great big ocean. Great to see you again Hornbill!
But Hornbill was not just swimming around like we see most whales do. This whale was actively breaching! What a sight from such a familiar whale and the perfect ending to our first trip of the year.
Beautiful breaches by Hornbill (above and below)

Hornbill's large flippers
Our whale watches are currently running on weekends. Visit www.granitestatewhalewatch.com to see our full summer schedule. Don't forget to check back on our blog for images and wrap-ups from our trips this season. And finally, if you are on Facebook, we also post our findings and photos for you to enjoy, and reminisce, about your time on board with us: Granite State on Facebook. Here's to 2017!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday, October 8

Today officially marks the end of our 2016 whale watching season.  We are saddened to have to say goodbye to all the whales that are still in the area, but we wish them well on their impending migrations and look forward to seeing them return in the spring.

Today we found a pair of humpback whales named Fern and Pitcher who were taking 10+ minute long dives. Although 10 minutes isn't long for a humpback whale to hold its breath, it seemed like forever as we eagerly anticipated them returning to the surface. 

We decided to continue on as we had a report of more whales nearby. We got to the specified location and waited and waited. Eventually we saw a spout from another humpback whale. This whale was apparently sleepy as it would spout a few times and then just sink (no arch or obvious dive behavior) and remain subsurface for 5-10 minutes.  As we waited for this whale, we kept seeing a more active humpback whale a little further away. We soon found our friend named Jabiru, who was acting more like a typical humpback whale, surfacing every 5-10 minutes and lifting her flukes out of the water when going down. 

We also saw a small pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins in the area with Jabiru, as well as a couple of harbor seals throughout the trip! Not a bad way to wrap up another wonderful season!   We wish everyone one a happy and safe winter and look forward to seeing you, and the whales, again in the spring!




Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday, October 7

Today was a day we wish could be experienced every day. Most of the day we had no wind to speak of and the swell we were seeing/feeling continued to diminish as the trip went on making for picture perfect conditions for wildlife spotting. Add in some phenomenal looks at so much marine life and it was a stellar kind of day. Multiple pods of harbor porpoise, a few harbor seals, 1 Ocean sunfish, 1 Blue shark, 1 Minke whale, 9 Humpback whales and a pod of 6-8 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were the sightings of the day. Among all that activity there was (no joke) trillions of comb jellies 'littering' the ocean.
A slightly tricky photo to understand but basically any/all egg-shaped items seen are comb jellies found all around us all day long!
These creatures are technically not true jelly fish as they have no stinging cells and fall into the category known as ctenophores. The first whale we stopped on was initially being a bit elusive so we checked out an Ocean sunfish as we waited.
Ocean sunfish
Eventually we decided to move on from the area and little did we know our whale had similar plans. A pair of whales we had been watching in the distance turned into three when our original whale joined the mix! All three of these whales were resting the majority of the time we watched them but as they did we got some incredible looks when they occasionally checked us out.
Fern the Humpback whale

Platform the Humpback whale who grouped up with the pair of Humpback whales we had seen in the distance
Two of the three whales in our trio
Turns out the majority of the Humpback whales seen today were all in pairs and most of them were napping!
Owl and Patches (surprise, surprise) resting at the surface
A-plus and Jabiru
One whale however, was VERY much awake. We spent time with a mother/calf pair. The calf rolled, flipper slapped, lob-tailed and even breached almost the entire time we watched this pair. Some truly specials moments.
Bright white flipper sky high
This calf is currently 'belly-up' lob-tailing at the surface
The ocean was so calm you could +see the reflection of the flipper on the ocean surface
Breach!
Before heading for home we even checked out a small group of dolphins moving through the area. Truly an incredible day.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins