Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday, June 29

Our morning trip started off great today. We got some great looks at such a distinctive Minke whale (thanks to its uniquely shaped dorsal fin).
Minke whale
A closer look at this Minke whale's dorsal fin shape
Conditions were beautiful and with more whales being reported further offshore we were excited to see what we would come upon next. Unfortunately the whales had other plans. Multiple times we would see whale spouts, move into the area, only to then wait 15+ minutes and still not have any luck relocating any whales nearby. We tried and tried and then tried some more. Eventually our patience paid off. We made our way back towards an area where we had attempted to watch one of the many whales from earlier in the trip. This whale was not only spending just a few minutes under the water but was also circling around the area in general. Sometimes a whale's behavior can be extremely cooperative for us and other times extremely challenging for us. All we can do it try and sometimes just let time pass. Less than an hour later not only was this whale still in the area but being much more conducive to actually watch this wild animal. We ended up getting some fantastic looks at this Fin whale!
Such nice looks as this whale circled around us
After investigating our photographs and our Fin Whale Catalog we are happy to report we had a new visitor for the season. Fin whale #1008 has returned to Jeffreys Ledge after first being identified in 2010.
Fin whale #1008
Fin whales certainly have a way of showcasing just how enormous they are when they swim through the water
As we spent some great time watching this whale a surprise fin suddenly appeared close by. There was a Basking shark near us.
Basking shark turning right in towards the boat!
What a great way to end our trip especially having cruised around the exact area early and having no luck whatsoever in the marine-life department. Wildlife certainly continues to do a great job reminding us how lucky we are to see any part of the ocean-dwelling world and that things can, and do, change constantly.

This afternoon we headed back offshore to where the Fin whales had been earlier in the day. This time things were quiet where only hours before we had seen whale activity. Instead just a few miles away another Fin whale was moving about. This whale was definitely darting all around. It was another new visitor to the area for us this year.
Check out the lighter shade of skin forward of this Fin whale's dorsal fin!
At the same time we spotted this whale another visitor popped up out of nowhere. It was a Minke whale but not just any Minke whale, it was Scar! A very well-documented whale seen around Jeffreys Ledge since 1995!
Even from a distance we know Scar Minke is around as a result of this whale's extremely noticeable scar/divot on its body
What great sightings to see having moved into the area. Before heading for home we were able to check out another Fin whale. It turned out to be #1008 but in a much different location than where it had been seen during our morning trip.
 More great looks at #1008 (above and below) moving around this afternoon!

The whales today certainly had their own agendas, which they always do, helping to make today and each and every one of our trips unique in their own ways.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27

What a difference a day makes! The sloppy seas of yesterday were quick to settle down today.   Our morning trip was graced by several minke whales, some more cooperative than others.  And thanks to a report from a fishing boat offshore, we spent time with Comet, one of our favorite fin whales!
Comet  
Comet's spout

During the afternoon trip, we did a bit of searching in different locations and ended up with fin whale #0902  (seen yesterday) as well as Comet again! But Comet wasn't anywhere near where she was in the morning. She had traveled 14 miles in less than 5 hours! Speedy whale! 

Pretty chevron on #0902

#0902 showing off its scars


Comet's "rainbow" blow!
Comet showcasing her signature move- the tail stock rise!
 Between our awesome fin whale sightings, we spotted a few minke whales as well as this added bonus- a basking shark!
Basking shark fin
Excellent trips today! Thanks to all who joined us for the adventure!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thrusday, June 26

The ocean managed to calm down enough to head out towards Jeffreys Ledge this afternoon. Apparently Mother Nature decided it was time to change things up a bit after all the calm weather we had earlier this month. So instead we dealt with a bit more wave action today. However, a few waves did not deter us or the whales . We spent time with two Fin whales whom were actually inshore of Jeffreys Ledge.
Fin whale spout
While one of these whales was being a bit elusive we most certainly got some great looks at the other whale circling around the area. The slightly windy conditions at the surface were no match for this very large Fin whale as it cruised around the area with such ease.
Fin whale swimming alongside us
While this may not look like anything impressive, it really is. The is the left tip of one of our Fin whales' tails. Very rarely do you ever see any part of a Fin whale's tail above the surface so even when the smallest bit of their tail breaks the surface it is definitely a cool sighting!
With such nice looks at one of our whales we were able to match up this whale to one in our Fin Whale Catalog (care of our friends Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation). It was a whale first seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 2009; Fin whale #0902. We have continued to spot this whale a few times so far this season which is always interesting to see as we continue to find out how long some of these wild animals inhabit our small section of the Gulf of Maine.
Fin whale #0902
It will certainly be interesting to see if this or any other whale remains inshore of the Ledge or if they move around once more. There is only one way to find out so stay tuned as we head out for another day out on the open ocean!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday, June 23

Whales are most certainly utilizing Jeffreys Ledge. This morning our first stop on marine life was our first sighting of an Ocean sunfish for the season. This particular fish was a bit on the smaller side but always a fun sighting to see.
Ocean sunfish swimming just below the ocean surface
Further offshore we came into an area where we saw 5 Humpback whales around and ended up getting some great looks at 3 of them including Glyph, Cat Eyes and Tracer.
Glyph the Humpback whale
Humpback whale spout
We maneuvered around as these whales seemed to be on the move traveling through the area. Birds, whales and some beautiful weather certainly made for another very nice trip.
Cory's Shearwater
One of the gaggles of Great Shearwaters seen
Humpback whale tail
This afternoon we were headed back offshore when we altered course before we even got to the Ledge. A Fin whale was close by.
Incoming Fin whale
Based on the photos we took of this whale we know it is an animal we have seen already this season, though it has been almost a week since its last sighting. Great to see a familiar whale well inshore! As we pressed further offshore more spouts were seen out in the distance. We ended up in an area where we had at least 8-10 Fin whales all around.
One of the many Fin whales cruising around the area
It took a bit of time to determine where they all were before we began to maneuver through the area. We got some great looks at a few of these animals circling around including a pair on the move. Once again we were excited to see a familiar individual. Fin whale #0808 was moving through the water with another massive Fin whale.
Fin whale #0808
The other Fin whale swimming around with #0808
#0808 was first documented out on Jeffreys Ledge in 2008 and has been seen a few times so far this season. Another animal still spending time in our area! After checking out some of the other Fin whales we were seeing we continued offshore to search for any other activity that might be nearby. No luck but it was once again another beautiful day out on the water today.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday, June 22

Whales here. Whales there. Whales everywhere. We were once again treated to not only plenty of whales but plenty of whale activity today. This morning we watched many Humpback whales create bubble nets, flipper slap, do some kick-feeding and even saw a few whales jump clear out of the water.
A bubble net created by these two Humpback whales is a feeding mechanism used to catch lots of fish!
Humpback whales will also smack their tails on the surface to help scare or stun fish which they then quickly scoop up before the fish try to swim away!
Flipper and tail above the water from this Humpback whale
We counted 15 Humpback whales out on Jeffreys Ledge this morning including Tear, Fern, Lariat, Harrow, Firefly, Joy, Fracture and Pogo. Amongst all of this activity we even had some surprise visitors cruise through the area. A small group of about 6-8 Atlantic white-sided dolphins suddenly appeared beyond a few whales we were spending time with.
One of the few Atlantic white-sided dolphins in the area
We got some looks as they moved through the mix of larger whale activity which meant we had to slowly maneuver around to keep track with the dolphins and whales all nearby.

Tear the Humpback whale
So many bubble nets made today
Pogo tail breaching
This afternoon we were once again back in the same area. The whales had shifted a bit but soon plenty of whale spouts were being seen. So many you literally did not know where to look. You would hear one spout and turn your head in one direction only to be turning your head in another direction just as quickly when another whale would surface close by. Even just watching a single whale would turn into 3 or 4 or more as you would just see a spout in the distance, then another, and another.
How many whales can you find in this photo?
Instead of trying to weave our way through the mass of whale activity we decided to sit tight and let the whales do their thing. This ended up working out fantastically as whales would randomly surface all around the boat.
Lariat the Humpback whale
Almost every single one of the 20 Humpback whales we saw this afternoon (whales included: Pisces, Joy, Tear, Lariat, Coral, Ampersand, Duo and Metronome to name a few) were doing some sort of feeding behavior. Whether it was more tail slaps, bubble clouds, bubble nets, or filtering out water, things were happening in every which direction.
Joy the Humpback whale
Upper and lower jaw of this whale coming up catching fish
Can you arch your back as much as this Humpback whale is?
A few times we even watched these whales swim so closely past one another you could see how abruptly one would suddenly alter course. So much food for the whales to focus on!
Not enough to look at close by? Take a moment to look out in the distance and this it what we kept seeing
This whale apparently decided to come check us our for a little while which definitely always works with us!
One never knows what a whale watching trip will hold. Whether it be how many whales, where they are, or what they are doing, we are in search of wild animals and they run the show. There is no guarantee what we saw today will happen again tomorrow or really for that matter what any given day will bring. That is really the enticing and phenomenal aspect about wildlife. Only the wildlife knows what they are going to be doing when. We just get to be the spectators to some quite incredible mammals on earth.
Until then...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 21

Happy Summer Solstice!

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the longest day of the year than by watching piles of humpback whales actively surface feeding, flipper slapping, breaching and more.  Today was an incredible day on both of our trips.  Although the whales are a bit of a steam from Rye Harbor, it was well worth the extended trips.

During the morning trip, as we approached the feeding area, we were greeted by lots of large splashes. That's always a great sign!  The first whale we came upon was rolling at the surface, and slapping her flippers on the water as she was upside down, on her back.
Fluke and flipper of Pisces as she rolls on the surface

Pisces

We watched her for a bit and soon realized that many more whales were close by. We moved off to see another humpback, and then saw more breaching and feeding in the distance. We pressed on to find a couple pairs of whales, a few single whales, and lots more activity on the horizon.


5 Humpback whales
At one point, 5 of the whales all got together and appeared to be feeding in the same patch of fish!  And nearby we had several whales breaching- coming completely out of the water!

 The morning trip was amazing, and the afternoon trip didn't disappoint at all either!

We headed back to the area we were in during the morning trip. We saw a couple of whales right where we left our AM group but as we looked around we saw lots more activity a bit further out so we pressed onward!

Our afternoon travels certainly paid off as soon we found ourselves surrounded by many groups of feeding humpbacks! Nearly every place we looked, we could see green bubble clouds created by the whales as a mechanism to corral their prey.

2 Feeding Humpbacks

2 Humpbacks- one nose, one tail

Diving Humpback
 The interesting part of today was that between both trips, we only saw two whales that were the same! We had images of 14 different whales between both trips!
Humpback known as "Thread"
And today's whales were different from yesterday's whales even though we were in the same general area! So it seems we have lots of new visitors the the Jeffreys Ledge region!! 

We can't wait to get back out there tomorrow to see who else shows up!