Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday October 5

The sun decided to come back to visit!  We were finally privileged to some sunshine during our trip as we spent the day watching whales in pairs and trios today.  Once again we started the day with the same trio we spent time with yesterday!  Tornado, her calf, and Barbell were slowly meandering around the area today. 
Tornado and her calf

Most of the time the calf was napping and even noted Tornado doing the same at one point at the surface.  All three whales remained in close proximity of each other which once again made getting looks at these wild animals very conducive. 
Close look at Tornado and her calf as they surfaced just off the port side!

Even though these whales were rarely raising their tails above the waterline we got some incredible looks as these three whales slowly swam around today.
Barbell, Tornado, and Tornado's calf all at the surface

We soon were on our way and interested in seeing what else may be around for we had a few more miles of visibility today thanks to low clouds slightly breaking apart, minimizing the fog, as we hoped for the sun to shine through.  Even with the slightly better conditions it was still tricky to sight a spout but our passengers were up for the challenge.  Minke whales and more Humpback whales were next on our list.  A couple of Minke whales were randomly surfacing but our eyes were focused on the three spouts we saw just ahead of us.  More Humpback whales and more naps appeared to be in order.  This trio of whales ended up consisting of Nine, Patchwork, and Slingshot. 
Nine
Patchwork
Slingshot
Nine was sighted for the first time this season on our very first trip (May 12) and has only recently been a visitor to the area in the past week once again.  Patchwork was sighted for the first time this year just  yesterday, and it has been years since Slingshot was last seen on Jeffreys Ledge.  2007 marks the last time Slingshot was documented by any of us on Jeffreys Ledge so it was very much an UNEXPECTED surprise to see this particular whale around again!  Instances like this certainly remind us of just how mysterious and wondrous whales are.  Has Slingshot been on Jeffreys Ledge over the years but has remained slightly too far away to see during a half day trip?  Is this really the first time this whale has returned to the area and we were just lucky enough to cross paths with it?  So many questions that intrigue us to the point of getting us hooked into the love and amazement of such graceful wildlife utilizing Jeffreys Ledge.
Nine, Patchwork, and Slingshot on the move together

Even with all of this activity we still had a bit more time to check out a couple of other whales nearby that our friends aboard the Prince of Whales were spending time with.  Two more Humpback whales were swimming together, Owl and Patches, and these whales had more "friends" around!  A group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were in close proximity of these other two Humpback whales the whole time we were in the area!  The dolphins were continuously changing direction but not very quickly so by staying near the dolphins we knew the Humpback whales would surface close by, and they certainly did.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins while at the surface much more frequently than the Humpback whales were constantly remaining close by the Humpback whales' movements

We made sure to give the dolphins a bit more extra space (since they constantly kept circling around) and just waited for the larger whales to surface as we watched the dolphins remain close to Owl and Patches.
Owl
Patches napping on the surface close by

It was a great way to end the trip (even though a few times we had to hold our breath for so many recreational fishing boats were zipping by; please, please, PLEASE be vigilant when out on the ocean and look for whales ESPECIALLY when there is a whale watching boat stopped close to you!!!!!) and see all the interesting associations of whales, both large and small, today!

If you look closely at these photos (above and below) you can just make out the small dorsal fins of a few dolphins while Owl the Humpback whale is at the surface.  And did you know that Humpback whales aren't even close to being some of the larger whales in the ocean?

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