Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Very Successful Opening Weekend!

The start of the 2012 whale watching season began for the Granite State this weekend. We were thrilled to have the weather on our side, especially for this time of the year, so all we needed to do was just "find the whales."  Well we did all weekend long.  On Saturday the 12th we left the dock with lots of familiar faces on board as the crew and our passengers were equally excited for what was to come on our first voyage. Our first whale of the season turned out to be a very cooperative Minke whale.

Minke whale
With the first whale under our belt we were able to sigh a bit of relief knowing that at least one whale was spending time on and around Jeffreys Ledge.  Little did we know that was just the beginning. We next found an animal almost 3 times the size of a Minke whale, this time it was a Fin whale.  Thanks to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, we were able to use their continually updating Fin Whale Catalog to match this particular Fin whale to #0902, a whale first seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 2009.  
Fin whale #0902
From there, we just kept seeing whale spouts, and more whale spouts, out in the distance.  Amongst other Fin whales in the area we also spotted at least 6 Humpback whales including Spar, Nine, Joy, and Badge.
Nine the Humpback whale

Joy the Humpback whale
Humpback whales
Even on the way home as this whale went down for a dive we were still able to identify this unique whale's tail pigmentation pattern as a Humpback whale named Badge.
With already a great day on the water we were equally happy to find even more life on our way home of yet another species.  Approximately 40 Atlantic white-sided dolphins in two different pods were seen on our ride in.  Nothing like a 4 species, aka. a Grand Slam, to start a new whale watching season!
Atlantic white-sided dolphins cruising around the boat

On Sunday, the 13th, the first sighting we found was not even a whale, it was a shark! A Basking shark was doing some feeding just below the surface of the water as it's dorsal fin was sticking out of the water while slowly swimming along with its mouth wide open.
Basking shark
Traveling further offshore we spent some time with a Minke whale before coming across a Humpback whale. Turns out it was Wigwam, a whale first sighted in the Gulf of Maine in 1992. 
Wigwam the Humpback whale
Soon thereafter we were spending time with one of the second largest animals in the world; a Fin whale.
Fin whale showcasing its very large body
With some nice looks we decided to use the remaining time offshore to do some searching.  Well things paid off as we ended up coming upon 3 Humpback whales.  These animals were maneuvering around the area and at one point made a tight turn in towards the boat.  Little did we know what was in store for us...

All three whales decided to check us out as they circled the boat.  Looks like maybe the whales were as curious about us as we were about them.  These massive beings were literally hovering in the water all around the boat as we sat floating in the Atlantic Ocean.  An experience that definitely doesn't happen often and most definitely never gets old.  What a feeling to contemplate just what mammal is watching whom? Quite incredible.
Nine the Humpback whale watching the Granite State
The tip of a Humpback whale's head
Hello there whale!
Only after the whales decided to move on did we ease our way out of the area and head back to the mainland.
Magpie the Humpback whale
Many thanks to all of our passengers who braved the cooler ocean temperatures to catch a glimpse of some of the majestic mammals of the sea that reside here in the Northeast.  We are looking forward to next weekend and just what we might find on our trips!

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