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

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!