Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 27

Variety was the name of the game today!!  On both trips we spotted fin whales, minke whales, Atlantic white sided dolphins, harbor porpoises, harbor seals and a gray seal!  The bird life included Northern Gannets, Great Shearwaters and even some phalaropes! The seas were pretty smooth allowing us to see clearly into the water to get amazing looks at the curious dolphins, and could even see the minke “mittens”  (white flipper patches) as the minkes cruised by!  It’s so great to see the area so full of life!
minke whale (see the white "mitten"?)
minke whale
fin whale
fin whale
gray seal

dolphin mom and calf
afternoon fin whale
afternoon minke whale

afternoon harbor seal

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, August 26

This morning started off like most other mornings of whale watching.  We dropped our lines and headed East towards Jeffreys Ledge in search of whales.  We cruised past the Isles of Shoals and soon found our first of nearly a dozen minke whales!  

 As we were hanging out with the minkes, we got a call on the radio from one of our seasoned fisherman friends informing us of some whales he saw to our south.  Captain Dan said that 2 of the 3 whales were of a different color than the ones he’s used to seeing. They were sort of a blue-gray, and not the dark gray or black he usually sees.  Hmmm, we thought. His description sounded like they could be blue whales, the largest animal ever to live on Earth! But could it be?   Blue whales are really rare in our area. In the Atlantic, they are usually sighted off the St. Lawrence in Canada. We might see a blue whale every 5-10 years, so it was possible, but rare.  We made our way down to that location, along with another curious whale watching boat.  They spotted some blows, but the whale was being elusive, coming up for just one breath and then spending 12 minutes underwater, and resurfacing a half mile away. They were only seeing the blows so they weren’t sure what species of whale it was. We arrived and after a lot of patience, saw the whale. It was indeed a blue whale. BUT….not just one, but two blue whales!! Amazingly awesome!!  In my 20+ years of watching whales around here, I’ve only seen blue whales 3 times before. And I’ve never seen 2 together! I could go on and on about how excited our entire crew was, but you get the picture.   And speaking of pictures, we did get lots of great images of these 2 whales, so we can tell them apart by their tiny dorsal fins and unique mottling patterns. We’ll be sending these photos off to researchers in Canada who study blues and see if they recognize our whales. I’ll be sure to update when we hear back!!

Blue whales under the boat!!
So on the ride in, we weren’t quite done watching whales, and found a fin whale and even an ocean sunfish! Fantastic morning!
Ocean sunfish

This afternoon was also pretty great. We passed by several pods of harbor porpoises and harbor seals before finding  a big pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. We had ideal conditions for watching these 7-9 foot toothed whales as they swam right alongside our boat! The dolphins have been rare for most of the season but lately we have been seeing them more regularly.  

A bit further, we found an area where 3 fin whales, 2 minke whales and another small pod of dolphins were hanging out! At one point, the dolphins were hanging out with one of the fin whales! Minke whales were zipping by as well!  Fantastic number of species in a small area.

Fin whale
We continued on, searching some areas we hadn’t been to recently, and found a small blue shark and another fin whale on our way home.

Days like today prove that we never know what we’ll find out there from day to day or even from trip to trip!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25

We only had a morning trip today due to the building seas we felt thanks to the increasing winds Mother Nature provided us during the morning hours. As we ventured offshore we headed out to familiar spots where whales have been seen. Guess what our eagle-eyed captain found as we were searching? A pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins! A pod of 45-50 of these toothed-whales were traveling through the area.
Dolphins charging through the wavy ocean
Atlantic white-sided dolphin face
These whales were swimming right into the wind and the waves. Watching these incredibly maneuverable mammals move through the water is always impressive to see as these whales swam on either side of the boat.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Eventually we pressed on to do some more searching. A Minke whale was seen, but unfortunately not by most, for a brief moment in time. We continued to search and ended up near Boon Island. We checked out the colonies of grey and harbor seals before heading for home.
Boon Island lighthouse
Grey seal colony
Close-up of a handful of grey seals

Harbor seals on the rocks and in the water

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24

This morning we started whale watching in an area where we had 2 Minke whales darting around. We spent some time watching these whales before moving on to search for more marine mammals.
Minke whale
Soon we saw a spout, which turn into two, then three! We moved into the area only to realize the whales continued to surface. There were 5 Humpback whales nearby! It didn't take long for these whales to separate from each other as they ventured off in their own particular directions. We checked out Owl and got a quick glimpse of Daffodil before spending some time with Pinball and her calf.
Daffodil diving in towards us
Pinball's calf was a little skirmish at the surface as this whale tail breached and flipper slapped from time to time.
Pinball's calf rolling on its side bringing its flipper above the waterline

Pinball and her calf
We watched this mother/calf pair move through the area before ending the trip with another pair of Humpback whales. Two of the five whales we had seen earlier swimming around by themselves had become associated with one another. Daffodil and a newcomer to the area this season, Jabiru, were swimming alongside one another. What a great end to a great morning.

This afternoon we came across Jabiru swimming around alone. This whale was steadily on the move.
We checked out this whale for a bit before we moved on to Owl not to far from our current location. With some nice looks at these whales we got the opportunity to end the day with Pinball and her calf.
In just a few short hours this pair of whales had moved 8 miles from their last known location. Whales can, and do, constantly move around as they look for large patches of guess what? Moving schooling fish! Fish move, whales move; the process is never-ending! Pinball and her calf were slowly meandering around and while they spent time at the surface we even enjoyed watching these whales taking some quick naps!
Pinball and her calf resting at the surface this afternoon
A few times the calf even rolled on its side, and onto mom's head for a moment in time! Crazy kids ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday, August 23

This morning we started the trip with a large Fin whale. This whale however had other plans in mind. This whale initially was spending A LOT of time below the waterline. Luckily our patience, which ended up be the word of the day, paid off. Eventually, this whale began to surface more frequently and we got some nice looks at this massive mammal.
Fin whale
We then went searching for more whale activity. We searched, and searched, and searched some more. We continued to persevere and it ended up working out in the end. After chatting with our friends from Newburyport Whale Watch they too were in hot pursuit for any whale activity in areas that had yet to be searched. Soon they had distant spouts so we headed that way. We were able to end our morning with 3 Minke whales, a passing Fin whale and 3 Humpback whales. The Minke whales were on the outskirts of the areas we were in as we moved in towards the other group of whales. Pinball and her calf were circling around while Hornbill was also moving around the same general area.
Pinball's calf
This afternoon we spent some time with Pinball and her calf again. Hornbill however, was nowhere to be found.
Pinball and her calf
After some nice looks at our pair of whales we knew it was time to go searching again. The only way to find the whales is to go looking for them which is what we do each and every day. This afternoon our search efforts paid off as we found Owl the Humpback whale to end the day.
Tomorrow we will be back out there searching once again for the magnificent mammals of the sea!

Monday, August 22, 2016

 Monday August 22, 2016
Although the wind kept us onshore this afternoon, we were lucky to see some great whales on our morning trip!  The fin whales were taking long dives today, but we did find one that came up close enough to us for a great look at this huge whale.  There was a small group of three humpbacks who were very active at the surface (Pinball and her calf and Hornbill).  We also saw several minkes throughout the trip.  For our bird loving passengers, we saw a great shearwater and a couple of manx shearwaters.  These are my favorite pictures from this mornings trip:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, August 21

The ocean breezes continued to increase as the day went on so the motion of the ocean continued to be felt throughout the day. For the whales however, waves are what they live in, so they still surface to breathe which gives us a moment to check them out where the water meets the sky. This morning we saw 4 Minke whales, 3 Fin whales and 4 Humpback whales. We started with Pinball and her calf.
Pinball's spout and her calf at the surface
Initially, these whales were on the move but soon they slowed and circled around the area. They stopped and circled so much we got some incredible looks as these whales swam in towards and all around us.
Incoming Pinball and her calf
Pinball's calf's flipper in the air
We then got a super quick look at Shuffleboard the Humpback whale before attempting to catch up to a pair of Fin whales on the move. These whales were steadily swimming along so we only got a few, but AWESOME, looks at this Fin whale pair.
Fin whale surfacing
Fin whale
Beautiful Fin whale chevron pattern
Soon we were venturing back to where we had seen other whales and got a brief look at Braid the Fin whale.
Braid the Fin whale
Before heading for home we quickly checked out Pinball and her calf one last time.
Pinball and her calf circling around one another
This afternoon we made our way back to the same area. In total, we came across 2 Minke whales and 5 Humpback whales. We started with Owl the Humpback whale not moving far in any direction.
Owl (above and below)

After some great looks at this adult female we meandered our way over to more spouts. Pinball and her calf were around.
Pinball and her calf
Pinball and her calf diving simultaneously
Once again we found and got a quick glimpse of Shuffleboard in the area. Among the few Minke whales that showed themselves briefly during the trip we eventually watched our mother/calf pair of whales turn into a trio. Not sure who the third whale was but always fun to watch adults group up for a brief moment in time.
Pinball, her calf and an escort this afternoon
Before heading for home we saw a few distant breaches by Owl, some lob-tailing by her, and a few movements by our trio of whales.
Owl lobtailing