Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday September 29

We have been so lucky this fall to be surrounded by such beautiful weather and today was of no exception. I am pretty certain we could all get accustomed to these conditions and hopping on a boat to go whale watching certainly is a fantastic way to get the full effect of these wonderful temperatures. Our travels today actually brought us back to Jeffreys Ledge; a place we have not travelled to in a few weeks! The whales had previously been spending so much time inshore of the ledge that we were getting spoiled! Today it looks like some of the whales decided to move a bit further offshore and back to more typical places we tend to find such beings.  Thanks to our other whale watching friends we ended up in an area where there were 3 Humpback whales around. One was spending a lot of time under the water so we ended up sticking with the two whales swimming along together and watching the lone whale circle around the outskirts of the area. Trowel seemed content moving around on its own today while the pair we watched consisted of Cacophony and Echo. 
Echo

Cacophony
Echo has not been seen in our area all season so what a nice surprise to come across yet another whale to add to the animals spending time around Jeffreys Ledge this year. 
Cacophony and Echo

Deeper dive for our pair
These two whales were providing us with some incredible looks at them for many times the two whales would be in complete synchrony as they moved through the water together. 
Simultaneous whale spouts!
In addition to watching these whales we also had a few Minke whales pop up around us as they too were moving on through the area. 
Super pointed dorsal fin from this Minke whale
With some wonderful looks at the two adult Humpback whales we decided to do a bit more searching before we needed to head for home. 
Can you make out the slight rainbow-blow from Echo?
Soon another spout was visible and it belonged to yet another Humpback whale. Patches was still near by! We have not seen this whale in over a week so we were happy to learn Patches may not have moved far from the area over the course of the past eight days.
Hello again Patches!

As we headed for home and passed by a few more Minke whales (6 in total for the day) the ocean still had a few more surprises awaiting for us. Our travels brought us into view of 2 more Humpback whales. It was Valley and her calf. We spent a little time with this pair and even got the chance to see both Mom and her calf raise their tails above the surface together (a behavior that is learned many times causing the calf to not quite figure out this body movement all the time). 
Valley and her calf (above and below) both raising their tails above the surface. Even whale calves like to do whatever Mom does.

With a few nice looks at this pair we were off once again back towards Rye Harbor. Turns out we had one last stop along the way. Past all the groups of harbor porpoise a large fin kept breaking the surface. We had an Ocean sunfish ahead of us! Conditions were absolutely perfect to check out this fish, the largest bony fish in the ocean. 
This Ocean sunfish swam right along side the boat giving everyone the chance to snap a few pictures of it!
So much marine life on such a beautiful day was once again cause for a wonderful day spent out on the water.
A pretty perfect combination: a beautiful calm ocean and a whale spout

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday September 28

Whales were very much present as we saw 1 Minke whale and 7 Humpback whales during our trip today. Our first Humpback whale of the day was being extremely elusive. This animal was spending well over 10 minutes under the water and moving in completely random directions making it quite tricky to get a look at it. The few looks we did manage to get revealed that this whale most certainly had a rough go recently. Many linear indentations were seen on either side of this whale, a very real reminder of how susceptible all whales are to fishing gear. This whale had become entangled in gear at one point in its past (as the scars indicate) and is a lucky one to have survived the ordeal. 
Our first whale of the trip (above and below). Those linear marks are due to previous line chaffing along the whale's body

Since this whale was being difficult to keep track of and we did not visually seeing a definite reason to stay longer (if we saw or strongly believed it to still be entangled we would have stayed) we ventured off towards some of the other spouts we were seeing not too far away.

We ended up first spending some time with Valley and her calf. Turns out this pair had a few extra "friends" traveling around with them today. A small group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were mixed in with this mother and her calf! 
Valley and some tiny dolphin dorsal fins in front of her!

Valley
It was great to see such the spread of marine life size from the 6-8ft dolphins, to the ~20ft calf, to the 40-50ft adult Humpback whale! 
Big mamma Valley and a few Atlantic white-sided dolphins

Valley's calf

Valley's calf current pigmentation pattern
We spent some great time with all these creatures before the dolphins moved on in their own direction and the pair moseyed out of the area in their own direction. So we too head off in yet another direction to check out another pair of Humpback whales!

This second pair of whales was Nile and Trowel. The two ended up moving right towards Valley and her calf and at one point we had a pair of whales on one side of the boat and another pair of whales on the other side. Awesome!  
Nile and Trowel

Trowel
With some nice looks at everything we decided to move on out of the area and do a little exploring before we needed to head for home. Weren't we excited to end our trip on yet another pair of whales. Touchdown and Ditto are still in the area! 
Ditto

Touchdown
These whales were on the move together as we were all very excited to see both of these whales still in our area (check out September 25 for the full story of these whales!). It was a great end to a very nice day full of whales.
Ditto and Touchdown

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday September 27

Our trip today once again brought us to areas inshore of Jeffreys Ledge. It has certainly been a nice change of pace having so much whale life so close to home. Hopefully the trend continues! Today we saw 2 Minke whales, 2 Humpback whales and a Fin whale. Our two Humpback whales from the day were swimming around on their own and were Trowel and Nile. 
Trowel
Both Trowel and Nile were slowly moving through the area, neither one of them seemingly going in any particular direction. Each of these sightings provided some very nice looks at these mammals. 
Nile coming in towards the boat!

Nile
Along with these whales we also had a couple of Minke whales swim past us before ending our trip on a Fin whale circling around the area. 
Dorsal fin from one of our Minke whales. We know this whale has been seen a handful of times this year due to its extremely uniquely shaped fin!
We were even lucky enough to see a massive cloud at the surface left behind our Fin whale today. Quite a large bit of cetacean defecation! 
That colored cloud is Fin whale poop!

Whale defecation still dissipating at the surface
These clouds are a great sign that this whale had recently been feeding and was just getting rid of lots of excess waste. Definitely not something you expect to see but a fun sighting regardless!
Fin whale (above and below)

Conditions are forecasted to be quite nice this weekend so hopefully that holds. Just make sure to bring some extra layers if you come on out. The fresh fall air certainly gets nice and cool when you find yourself miles and miles offshore!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday September 25

The cooler temperatures today certainly reminded us that Fall has officially arrived. While the air was cool and crisp the seas were calm and the area was once again filled with life. Among the 5 Minke whales spotted throughout our travels today we also spent some quality time with three different pairs of Humpback whales. Each pair of whales provided its own excitement for the day for if you continue you will soon see why...

Our first pair of the day were Cacophony and a new visitor to Jeffreys Ledge this season: Nile! Nile spent a lot (and I mean a lot!) of time further south of us this summer before she disappeared from every one's eyesight for a while. Low and behold she has turned up near us! 
Nile and Cacophony
Nile spent some time on Jeffreys Ledge last year but had yet to come visit the area until now. What a great surprise!
Nile
Looks like she also decided to follow suit with many of the other whales we have been seeing recently for she, as well as Cacophony too, spent most of their time napping at the surface. 
Nile and Cacophony's tail
With the whales barely moving through the area we were able to get some great looks before allowing them to continue on with their day as we headed on to investigate another spout we saw in the distance.

Turns out there was another pair of Humpback whales in the area. Only instead of them being two adults like we spent time with earlier, it was Valley and her calf! 
Valley

Valley's large body while her calf's "tiny" body is visible close by Mom
These two whales were mostly nursing but also took some time to nap along the water's edge. Valley even left a red cloud on the surface (whale poop!) for us to watch dissipate as this mother and her 1+ ton calf swam through the area. 
Valley and her calf (Mom's body and the calf's head)

Valley's "big wings." Her large flippers (light patches seen extending out from her body) are flared out as she gets ready to go on a deeper dive
With a bit more time on the water we decided to leave our current pair and check out a few more spouts our eagle-eyed crew had spotted out in the distance. Little did we know what we were about to find out.

Two more Humpback whales were nearby but their dorsal fins weren't recognizable with some of our recent visitors to the area. It wasn't until we saw their flukes (and did some searching through our catalog) did we discover just who these two whales were. Ditto and Touchdown were around Jeffreys Ledge!!! For most people these two whales are exciting enough as it is; aka. two more new visitors to the area this season. However it goes much, much, further than that. We on the Granite State love what we do (as our nerdy ocean-loving-selves typically portray on any given day) and these particular whales are true testaments to just that. Amazing moment #1 for the day: Touchdown was just seen by one of our crews members on September 6 off of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada! Who can say they have seen the EXACT same whale...in two different countries...all in one month?!?!? 
Touchdown is certainly utilizing many of the productive feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine this season!
What an amazing sighting! (And yes, I apologize for the complete nerd-factor coming to the forefront right now.) But seriously, a whale that hasn't been seen in our area for quite some time to suddenly make its presence known to the same set of eyes that had seen it all the way up in the Bay of Fundy just earlier this month? Incredible. And yet the incredibleness only continues. 

Ditto, the companion seen with Touchdown, shares its own amazing bit of information. This particular whale hasn't been seen on Jeffreys Ledge since 1994!! That's 19 YEARS!!!!! And how do we know this?? Because one of our crew members has such a sponge of a memory for whale information that once a positive identity was determined for this whale, it was a complete flashback to years ago!
Welcome back to the area (just shy of 20 years!) Ditto!!!!
Can you imagine after so many years of watching whales out of the blue (literally!) a whale from years, and years, and years ago is once again swimming through the area?!?!? Incredible moment #2 of the day.

We like to try and show our passengers all that we can while out whale watching and while we try to pass along our excitement and awe of any whale we see sometimes even we are taken aback unexpectedly. Each trip holds its own moments and memories for all on board but it was an extra "hats off" kind of day to the hard-working crew with their unbelievable and unimaginable moments the whales provided them today.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday September 21

The wind certainly did a good job making some wave action this afternoon. The extra rocking and rolling (and occasional spray; sorry to those of you who got a bit of salt water coming your way!) made for some extra excitement as we headed offshore today. Luckily whales, no matter what the conditions, still need to come to the surface to breath air and with plenty of whales around we had no problem getting some great looks at multiple species.

Our first whale of the day was a Fin whale. As this whale swam on through the area it wasn't until this animal went on a deeper dive were we excited to see who it was. Fjord was close by! This whale has such a distinctive dorsal fin and has been seen so many times over the years on Jeffreys Ledge it was another wonderful chance to capture this whale still swimming around the area. 
Fjord!
We ventured further offshore, stopped to check out a couple more Fin whales that were being a little more unpredictable in their movements, before coming across a pair of Humpback whales.
Humpback whale calf (left) and mom (right)
It was Valley and her calf. These whales are also still spending time around Jeffreys Ledge! Today we got the chance to watch the calf change its behaviors from nursing, to napping, and back again to more nursing. Basically pretty much what all young critters like to do!
Valley (foreground) and her calf swimming just past the boat!
Watching a mother and calf pair never gets old, and today was no exception, as seeing any young creature stay tight to and even try to catch up to mom is incredible even when it all happens in the water.
Valley's calf  holding its tail above the waterline as it awkwardly "wobbled" in the air for a few moments

Valley's tail

Trying to be just like Mom. Valley and her calf in the process of going on a deeper dive
During our time watching this Humpback whale pair we even saw a Minke whale pass on through the area. It was crashing through the waves as it was swimming against the wind making it much easier to keep track of this whale as it travelled on by us.
Minke whale
Before heading for home we went and checked out one other pair of whales not too far away. It was Patches and Cacophony the Humpback whales.
Patches
Looks like the associations have changed within the past 24hrs (as is very typical for baleen whales) as these two adult whales were now synchronizing their movements through the water together. What a nice way to end a nice day of whale watching.
Patches and Cacophony swimming side by side