Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday August 2

Still can't believe the month of August is already here!  The whales continue to be on Jeffreys Ledge but each time we venture offshore not even each day, it is seriously each trip, is so vastly different than the previous and soon-to-be next!  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what we see.  Whales move in and move out.  Animals from one trip disappear during the next and new ones move in without having been seen just hours prior.  It is insane and yet spectacular all at the same time.  Different whales different behaviors; it is wildlife at its finest.

This morning we began our day with some very impressive whales holding their breaths.  Our first Fin whale was under the water for 16 minutes and even as we eased our way out of the area we still never saw it return up for a few breaths of air.  Definitely doing a great job spending time, and probably great distances, over the region under the water.  Next even a Minke whale was being elusive.  It seemed everything we were seeing wanted nothing to do with us.  With a few more spouts out in the distance maybe the third time would be the charm.  It worked!  We ended up spending time with two Fin whales.  It was Ladder (again!) moving through the water with another identified whale, #0926.  While this animal does not have a name, it was still fun to see both these large Fin whales circle around before taking off and ultimately splitting apart.  We got some great looks at these whales and then pressed on to explore some more areas of Jeffreys Ledge.
Fin whale #0926
Our next whale was another species.  A Humpback whale surfaced just out in the distance.  We maneuvered over, watched this whale go on a deeper dive, and 18 minutes later we were still waiting!  More whales were holding their breaths...  Sometimes the whales we see spend only a couple minutes under the water and today we had the complete opposite.  But honestly that's okay.  We all go out in search of wild animals.  There is no training, no feeding, no planned behaviors from any whale we see.  Instead we just catch a glimpse into the lives of such incredible creatures and sometimes we come across whales that spend a good bit of time under the water.  The whales choose their behaviors, not us, we only get the lucky chance to see any of them to begin with.

With more time we continued on and soon spotted another spout.  One turned into two and then more.  We ended up in an area where we had 3 Fin whales and 1 Humpback whale.  Two of the Fin whales were moving in tandem together while the 3rd moved into the area on its own. 
Fin whale pair moving effortlessly along
Our Humpback whale was Ballpark and was just circling close by.  This is a two year old whale and just got its name last month!
Ballpark the Humpback whale
At one point as we sat with our engines shut off as we had a Humpback whale off our right side, a Fin whale off our left side, and a pair of Fin whales swim by the stern.  It was awesome!  Nothing beats sitting in silence, floating on the surface, just watching and hearing the whales move around.
This Fin whale swam just in front of the boat!
This afternoon our first sighting came up unexpectedly.  A small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins appeared just ahead of us.  We got a few look at these 5 whales before we lost track of them as they swam through the area.  Since we were still inshore of the Ledge we decided to continue on in search of more whale-life.

Our next stop was on a Fin whale.  This animal was just circling around so we got some great looks at the whale on each side of the boat. 
Fin whale taking a good breath of air
Fin whale dorsal fin
There were a few more Fin whales around but all the whales started to cross paths with each other and with another whale watching boat in the area and multiple whales around we didn't want to interfere with the whales' movements so we eased our way out of the area and made our way over to a few other spouts not far away.  We saw two Humpback whales, both heading in different directions, so decided to start with the whale a bit closer to us.  Turns out it was Ballpark again.  We enjoyed watching this whale move through the area when suddenly it decided to change up its behavior.  This whale decided to lift the entire back half of its body out of the water.  34 lob-tails and 1 tail breach later (thanks to Katie, one of the Blue Ocean Society's summer interns for recording all the behaviors!) Ballpark went back to just swimming through the water.  This whale put on quite the display for everyone on board. It was incredible. 
Tail breach!
Not only seeing this whale constantly launch part of its body into the air but hearing the sound as the tail smacks back down on the surface is something unlike any other. 

Ballpark lob-tailing high into the sky
Still going strong!
We attempted to relocate the other Humpback whale in the area after leaving Ballpark but this whale was moving further offshore and we were running short on time.  It was another great day out on the ocean.  I wonder what we will encounter come tomorrow for another day of whale watching on Jeffreys Ledge...


  1. Here's my recording of the "Ballpark" lobtailing encounter:

  2. Thanks so much for sharing such an incredible series of events James for all of us to remember for a very long time!!!