Monday, October 14, 2019

October 13-14, 2019

The weather has been less than ideal this fall speeding up the end of the year. Sunday was our final public trip of the season. Luckily the wind was almost obsolete as we spent time offshore in the diminishing swells created during the past week. The ocean was alive with whales. We saw a total of nine humpback whales and three fin whales. The fin whales were being their sneaky selves as they were spending lots of time subsurface.
Sleek fin whale
Not all of the humpback whales were fluking, showcasing their unique pigmentation patterns, but so it goes with wildlife. We found a trio and even a group of five on the move together!
Trio of humpback whales
Three, out of the five, humpback whales in our second group
Identified individuals include Bungee, Infinity, Reaper, A-plus and Moonlight.
Infinity the humpback whale
Associated humpback whales
On Monday, we had an all-day bird trip. There were things to see the entire time. Lots of birds and lots of whales (for our crew!). Sightings included multiple puffins, a leaches storm petrel, a south-polar skua, a little gull, red and red-necked phalaropes, northern fulmars, and shearwaters to name a few! On the whale side of things we had groups ranging from two to five individuals, with some of them lunge feeding on krill! What a way to wrap up another year.

Many thanks to all of our passengers this season. The ocean is a beautiful place with incredible creatures and our hopes are to share a snip-it of that with all of you. Thank you for making 2019 a success. See you in 2020!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

October 5, 2019

Wow. October already. The season is quickly winding down. There is only one more week of the 2019 season. The weather cooperated quite nicely today. Unfortunately, we have already canceled our trip tomorrow because the wind is scheduled to crank right back up; a seemingly reoccurring theme this fall. Today we saw four humpback whales. We started with a pair: Littlespot and Fan. These two adults were slowly traveling along.
Fan

Rain-blow
Littlespot and Fan
To our astonishment, while spending time with these humpback whales, they breached. But not just one. Both! And simultaneously! Both whales launched themselves high into the air in the most serene synchrony you can imagine. The unexpectedness of the event unfortunately caused for no photographs taken but the memory of the beauty will last a long time. We ended the day with another pair of humpback whales: Ravine and her 2019 calf. These two were being mellow. The calf was even napping for a short time.
Ravine and calf (above and below)

Just before leaving the pair however, both mom and calf got interested in the boat! The calf lingered longer but both whales checked us out before continuing on with their day. Even a calf looks REALLY big as it meanders under and next to the boat!

Monday, September 30, 2019

September 30, 2019

The swell was certainly swelly today and slowly improved as the day went on. The first whale we came across was a fin whale. Turns out there were two in the area! One was a familiar fin known as Crow.
First fin whale of the trip
Crow the fin whale
We also attempted to look at additional fin whales throughout the trip but they were certainly on a mission of holding their breath! Further offshore we spent time with a pod of 50 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. These whales enjoyed the swell as they leapt through the ocean movements with such ease.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins (above and below)

The trip ended with a sighting of a humpback whale, spotted during our travels home. Clamp's 2016 calf was meandering around the area.
Humpback whale diving
Clamp's 2016 calf

Saturday, September 28, 2019

September 27, 2019

Yesterday we took a group of home schooled children and their families out on a very calm ocean. The fin whales we found first were less than cooperative so we pressed on. A humpback was found just cruising along at the surface. This turned out to be Swing, a new whale to the area! 



As we followed Swing, we saw a north Atlantic right whale in the distance! What a surprise to have another rare animal in the neighborhood! 

As we were turning to head back in, we saw splashing in the distance. This turned out to be a very active pod of common dolphins (not at all common for our area). The entire boat was treated to amazing looks at these off-shore dolphins! 


Great day!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September 25, 2019



Today’s whale watch was amazing. We started out with a large pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. This group included lots of mom/calf pairs and small groups coming in right alongside our boat! Amazing looks at this Gulf of Maine dolphin species.




Then we found a big fin whale that was taking dives ranging from 6-12 minutes. We eventually got a nice look at this endangered whale and could clearly see its unique chevron and blaze markings along with some scars indicative of a prior entanglement in fishing gear.



An ocean sunfish surfaced nearby and showed us just how weird this fish appears!

An eagle-eyed passenger told us of a whale tail he saw through his binoculars. We headed to that area and slowed down. Another fin whale surfaced, and soon after, we saw a tail of a different whale go down.  We expected to find a humpback whale, as they are common in the area and are known to lift their flukes out of the water when diving. After 13 minutes, the whale resurfaced and we quickly realized that this was not a humpback whale. Instead, we were looking at a critically endangered north Atlantic right whale, one of only about 400 whales of this species left.  We waited another 13 minutes before seeing it come back up to breathe. 


Knowing that this species may be effectively extinct in as few as 20 years is extremely humbling. Man-made threats such as entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes are the most common causes of death for this animal. We all were extremely lucky to see this whale in person.

(All images taken within accordance of whale watching guidelines and regulations)


Saturday, September 21, 2019

September 20, 2019

The weather was on our side again on Friday; a crisp horizon and almost no wind to speak of. Our first sighting of the day was minutes after leaving the harbor when we briefly got looks at an ocean sunfish.
An ocean sunfish less than a mile from land
Once offshore we found a pair of humpback whales slowly traveling along. A third individual was sighted out in the distance, flipper slapping, but we never did relocate that sneaky whale. The pair we spent some time with was Partition and Slingshot. Both whales we saw earlier this season but months ago! Nice to see them passing through once again.
Humpback whale diving
The trip ended with a uncommon sighting of common dolphins! This pod of 50 whales was VERY curious of the boat, and with such beautiful ocean conditions, watching these toothed-whales zip under and around the boat was pure fascination and joy!
Subsurface common dolphin
Common dolphin

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 15-16, 2019

Mother Nature has really been putting a wrench in our fall schedule this season. All last week conditions did not allow for whale watching so it wasn't until Sunday we FINALLY got back to what we aim to do; go searching for whales! At long last not only were conditions conducive, they were beautiful! Calm seas and a crystal-clear horizon; perfect. The first stop on marine life was near the Isles of Shoals when we checked out an ocean sunfish.
Ocean sunfish
Further offshore we had a tight group of 50-60 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Ultimately, we saw three different pods of dolphins during our trip but the other pods were less than a dozen each.
So impressive to watch dolphins maneuver in-sync with each other!
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
We then patiently tried to watch a pair of fin whales. These whales were spending a good amount of time under the water but when you are in 500ft of ocean, that's a long way to get to the bottom of the ocean and back up again! In total, four fin whales were in the area.
Fin whale
The day wrapped up with three humpback whales. Most of our time was spent with a pair who were spending only minutes underneath the surface and plenty of time near the boat. All three whales turned out to be new visitors to the area this season: Smudge, Squeegee and Paddleboard!
Pair of humpback whales (above and below)
The weather on Monday was equally as spectacular. Such a stunning day to go look for wildlife. We started the day with three humpback whales. It was Smudge, Squeegee and Paddleboard again!
Squeegee the humpback whale
Two humpback whales at the surface
But not surprisingly, these whales were not in the same area they had been in the day before. Fish move, whales move, the ocean moves, most things move :) After some great looks at these mammals we came across a pod of 50 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Always a crowd-pleasing sighting.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins (above and below)

The day ended with a large ocean sunfish. A nice couple of days after such miserable ocean conditions last week!
Ocean sunfish

Monday, September 9, 2019

September 8-9, 2019

Dorian safely passed and we finally got back out on the water starting on Sunday. Our fall schedule is underway so single trips are occurring during the week. For our full schedule check out our website: www.granitestatewhalewatch.com. On Sunday, the weather continued to improve as the day wore on. Some of the spots where whales were earlier this week were quiet. As is typical, the only way to find whales is to go search for them. So we did. In lots of different offshore locations. Unfortunately, things were more quiet than hoped. We did see three ocean sunfish and a pod of toothed-whales; at least 75 Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
Atlantic white-sided dolphins (above and below)
 
Monday started with more toothed whales. We saw a pod of 8-10 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Conditions were so pristine, watching any type of marine life was impressive.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins just beyond of the Isles of Shoals
In addition, we saw multiple seals, a brief look at a blue shark and eight ocean sunfish. One sighting of those sunfish included a pair clearly associated with each other. So fun!
Ocean sunfish
Two ocean sunfish dorsal fins!
The day ended with a trio of humpback whales. Owl, Patches and Fan were seen slowly on the move. Definitely a beautiful day with plenty of life to see!
Three humpback whales
Patches and Fan