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

Sunday, September 1, 2019

August 31 - September 1, 2019

Labor Day weekend has arrived! The summer has flown by and with it lots of trips on the open ocean. The season continues for well over another month so we continue going strong. On Saturday the trip began moments after leaving the harbor when we stopped on an ocean sunfish; three in total for the trip.
The first of many ocean sunfish
Further offshore we saw three humpback whales and a fin whale.
Fin whale spouting
The humpback whales were initially associated with each other but shortly thereafter Shuffleboard went off on her own while Owl and Reaper remained together.
Humpback whales (above and below)

On the afternoon trip we also saw multiple ocean sunfish. We checked out Shuffleboard the humpback whale (in a different spot; per usual for wild animals), a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins and two fin whales.
Ocean sunfish
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
Fin whale
On Sunday morning five fin whales, two minke whales, Sword the humpback whale and four ocean sunfish were sighted. The fin whales were scattered around, one of the ocean sunfish breached and Sword was on the move!
Ocean sunfish swimming away
Fin whale
Surfacing fin whale
Sword the humpback whale
The afternoon trip provided four fin whales, including #9709(!), and a super quick glimpse of a basking shark.
Fin whale #9709
One of our other fin whale sightings
Two of our fin whales came together at one point, surfaced close to the boat multiple times filtering out loads of saltwater, and separated from one another just as quickly as their association formed. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

August 26-28, 2019

Strong persistent wind kept us tied to the dock all day Monday. On Tuesday, a leftover swell from the churned ocean remained but conditions were more manageable. Tuesday morning we started with a large fin whale. This whale was being extremely consistent; 10 minutes dives and not moving far each time it surfaced. We got some fin-tastic looks at this massive mammal.
Fin whale (above and below)

We also saw a couple minke whales and four humpback whales. A trio of humpback whales were moving around together: Owl, Valley and Daffodil.
Three humpback whales
Owl
During the afternoon trip two minke whales were sighted, a pod of 15-20 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and seven humpback whales were in the area including Owl, Valley, Daffodil, Spy, Patches and Sword.
Whale tail
Atlantic white-sided dolphins moving through the waves
Pair of humpback whales
Patches the humpback whale
On Wednesday the ocean continued with leftover movement (the ocean is a vast body of water and wave-action can last for a long time depending on a few factors!). In the morning we spent time with three humpback whales: Sword, Decimal and I.T. We even checked out an ocean sunfish we saw during our travels home.
Morning humpback whale
Ocean sunfish

The afternoon trip included passing a few minke whales as we made our way offshore, four humpback whales (Owl, Spy, Sword and I.T.), two ocean sunfish and a small pod of 10-12 Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
Subsurface ocean sunfish
Owl
Humpback whale with a couple dolphins in the background
Pair of humpback whales

Sunday, August 25, 2019

August 24-25, 2019

Saturday morning was one of those trips. A sun-shining day and yet, to Mother Nature, the sun is only one aspect of all that is felt out on the open ocean. The strong wind brought on lots of waves and the motion of the ocean was active! We searched some of the inshore areas; the further offshore you went the larger the wave action. Unfortunately, even with whale reports in the area we were unable to find any whales. We did briefly check out Boon Island and the seal colonies found on this baron island.
A colony of grey seals

More seals
Just a few miles from the harbor an ocean sunfish breached multiple times and we witnessed an 'interesting' encounter with this large bony fish and a baseball hat...
Ocean sunfish
As the forecast suggested the strong winds dramatically dropped halfway through the day and we found ourselves in a very different ocean in the afternoon. Even though there was plenty of leftover wave movement, conditions allowed for further offshore exploration and creatures to be found. We ended up seeing two different pods of Atlantic white-sided dolphins, a fin whale and six humpback whales.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Fin whale
A trio of humpback whales were together: Daffodil, Sword and Grommet. We saw distant looks at a flipper slapping humpback whale, saw the trio do a few breaches and watched Owl and Satula circle around us.
Tail breach

Owl
Whale tail
Not only do whales like to keep trips interesting, the conditions can have similar impacts! Sunday, another round of strong wind is keeping us tied to the dock. Check back this coming week for more updates from the Gulf of Maine!