Friday, August 14, 2020

Aug 14, 2020

Friday morning, we spotted some splashing in the distance. A small group of Atlantic white sided dolphins were cruising around. Before we knew it, a humpback whale surfaced nearby! It seems this summer that the relationship between dolphins and humpbacks has been unusually strong! The humpback, known as Jabiru, was blowing some bubble clouds, likely to concentrate her prey. She also seemed to be slowly traveling and spending lots of time at the surface!
Humpback whale with Atlantic white sided dolphins

Atlantic white sided dolphin
The Atlantic white sided dolphins were often near her, but occasionally would speed off in various directions, only to return to Jabiru. It was quite the morning. We searched around a bit and didn’t find anything else in the area, so we got our last looks at Jabiru, still with the dolphins. 

Humpback diving
Humpback whale, Jabiru
Friday afternoon, we found a couple of ocean sunfish close to each other. We got great looks at one of them! Ocean sunfish are really weird looking, but also really cool! They migrate to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in the winter (who wouldn’t love that life??) and spend a lot of time just basking in the sun!
Ocean sunfish
We had a brief look at a rare leatherback sea turtle! This was the first leatherback I have seen in many years (although the boat has seen a few recently).  It was a passing sighting and as soon as I pointed it out, the turtle dove. Leatherbacks are known to be here in the summer, but it is unusual to actually see one! They are quite shy.

Moving on, we found the humpback whale Jabiru once again. No dolphins with her this time but she did spend a lot of time at the surface where we could all get a great look at her.
Humpback whale blow

Humpback whale, Jabiru, diving

Jabiru's path, captured on our "fish finder", diving to the ocean floor (324 feet down) and presumably stirring up the bottom dwelling fish for lunch!
Our course home took us between the islands at the Isles of Shoals. We got a surprise look at a group of grey seals just between Appledore Island and Smuttynose Island! These grey seals seemed quite interested in us, although still a bit shy as any wild animal should be.
Grey seals at the Isles of Shoals
It appears that some wind is in the forecast so we will be safely staying in the harbor tomorrow. 

August 12-13, 2020

Moments, moments, moments. Every trip spent with wildlife produces its own moments and our trips continue to be no exception. On Wednesday morning we saw five ocean sunfish, two minke whales, four humpback whales and even a blue shark. So much marine life to look at.
One of the first of many ocean sunfish
Blue shark
Our first humpback whale of the trip was Ravine, a whale we haven't seen in the area in over a month! Valley and her wiggly calf were sighted and we even saw Quote as we departed the area.
Valley's calf upside down
Can you find the ocean sunfish swimming near this humpback whale?
On the afternoon trip a total of three minke whales and three humpback whales were seen. We spent time with Ravine followed by Valley and her calf.
Valley and her calf (above and below)

Our last 'sighting' of the day was a dolphin. But this wasn't just any dolphin. It was an inflatable toy! This isn't the kind of dolphin we want to see out on the open ocean. No worries, we scooped this 'species' out of the water but a great learning moment to remind everyone where our trash can go when it gets swept away by the water or the wind.

Not exactly the kind of dolphin we want to come across miles offshore!

Perhaps karma was on our side for picking up the 'dolphin' on Wednesday for on both of Thursday's trips we found dolphins! Thursday morning we had two pods of Atlantic white sided dolphins. The first pod was a nursery pod full of tiny calves. The second pod was slightly smaller in size but much more full of energy!

Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Dolphin zipping through the water

We also spent time with Ravine the humpback whale and an ocean sunfish.

Ravine the humpback whale
Humpback whale spout
Ocean sunfish

On the afternoon trip we were delighted to find another leatherback sea turtle!! Such a rare sighting and yet another one to add to our growing list this season. Then again, we have been fortunate the ocean has been so calm recently, perhaps aiding to finding these elusive sightings!

Leatherback turtle (above and below)


Further offshore we spent time with Jabiru the humpback whale and saw at least eight different minkes whales!

It couldn't be any calmer!
Minke whale

Nothing like rounding out an already incredible day with possibly the same nursery pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins we spent time with on our morning trip!

Afternoon dolphins (above and below)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

August 10-11, 2020

On Monday morning we took advantage of the nice ocean conditions to check out areas of Jeffreys Ledge that we haven't searched recently. We ended up seeing multiple minke whales, an ocean sunfish and two pods of dolphins! Our first pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins was a nursery pod. Lots of little ones!
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
Further offshore we checked out an ocean sunfish before finding two minke whales working independently of each other in the same area.
Ocean sunfish
Minke whale

The second pod of dolphins we came across were a bit more active as they zipped near, around and past the boat with swift ease!

More dolphins!

Monday afternoon we briefly looked at a minke whale inshore. Out on the ledge we found five humpback whales. First, Valley and her 2020 calf were slowly on the move.

Valley and her calf

From there we checked out a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins that were associated with a trio of humpback whales: Jabiru, Spoon and Quote!

Afternoon dolphins

Two of our three whales

Dolphin as this whale dives

Tuesday provided plenty of special moments. During the morning trip our first sighting was of a minke whale. But this was not just any minke whale. Well known by our crew as "Finke" (finless minke) was sighted for the first time all season!

Minke whale Finke!!

This whale lost its dorsal fin (at an unknown time and location) but we have been seeing this whale in the inshore area since 2011. So thrilling to know this whale is still swimming even after its hardships. Our next stop was another rare sighting, a leatherback turtle.

Leatherback turtle!

This is the third time we have seen a leatherback this season. One of our crew members has never even seen a sea turtle before and she has been working on the water for a long time! Such a rarity once again this year. From there it only continued to get better. An ocean sunfish was at the surface and before long we came across a minke whale that swam almost around the entire boat on its side, totally checking us out!!!

Ocean sunfish
Minke whale swimming next to the boat!

The already incredible sightings ended with humpback whales Spoon and Quote bubble cloud feeding. So much variety!

Feeding whales

The sea breeze kicked up in the afternoon, as expected, as we headed out towards Jeffreys Ledge. We found a pair of humpback whales, Valley and her 2020 calf, on the move.

Valley and her calf (above and below)

While moving with this pair we briefly checked out an ocean sunfish and ultimately even saw a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins on our way home.

Ocean sunfish

Sunday, August 9, 2020

August 8-9, 2020

Saturday: what a day. From start to finish we couldn't have asked for better weather conditions and the sightings just kept coming. The seas were calm as could be so watching anything roaming in the ocean was a sight to be seen. During the morning trip we started with a quick look at an ocean sunfish.

Ocean sunfish

Out on Jeffreys Ledge we came across five humpback whales. All five of these whales were sleeping. Not a bad surrounding to take a mid-morning nap! Valley and her 2020 calf were in one spot while a trio consisting of Jabiru, Spoon and Quote rested in another area.

Valley diving
Valley's calf
Trio of humpback whales

We also can't forget about our Atlantic puffin sighting! Sorry birding friends, this bird was well in the state of Massachusetts.

Hello puffin!

On our travels home our keen-eyed crew spotted a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. A dollop of extra goodness to an already great trip!


The afternoon began with a larger pod of ~25 Atlantic white-sided dolphins as we ventured back offshore.

More dolphins

Before getting to the ledge our crew once again(!) directed us to an very unusual sighting. A leatherback sea turtle was at the surface. Little did we know what we were in store for as we sneaked into the area. This, the largest of the sea turtles, was having lunch! The leatherback turtle was busy chomping down on a lion's mane jellyfish, their food of choice, while 5-7 pilot fish maneuvered below the feast! There we sat enthralled as we witnessed some amazing looks at just an animal eating some food.

Lunch time for this turtle!
Remnants of the lion's mane jellyfish cascading down the sides of this leatherback turtle's mouth!
This leatherback was not letting this jellyfish out of its sight, or mouth!

It's amazing how something so simple can be so incredible. Needless to say the entire crew was blown away.

Simply incredible

Eventually we forced ourselves to leave this turtle to its delicious meal and focus back on the whales. We first began with Quote, who was regularly creating bubble clouds. Then Jabiru was briefly associated with Valley and her calf.

Quote feeding
Valley and her calf

As if we hadn't enjoyed enough wildlife for the day on our travels home a minke whale decided to breach multiple times in our wake! Today = an ocean safari to the utmost level. With even a fraction of the activity seen today it still would have made for a fantastic day. Sometimes even the ocean leaves us speechless.

On Sunday, a slight breeze kept us cooler offshore as we went searching for wildlife. In the morning we found Jabiru and Spoon.

Spoon and Jabiru
Spoon's flipper

These two ladies were being about as lazy as they could be and why not? Even whales need rest! The breeze was slightly stronger in the afternoon but still refreshing especially knowing what's to come with temperatures this week! Our first stop on our afternoon trip was Quote on the move.

Quote diving

Once we left her we headed to another distant blow. In a matter of a few surfacings suddenly a trio of humpback whales were together. Independently, Quote had now joined up with Spoon and then Jabiru. All three whales joined side by side.

A bubble cloud from one of our humpback whales
Whale tail
Humpback whales