Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday June 9

There was a bit of excitement in the air as we headed out of Rye Harbor today. The skies were clear and the wind was minimal making for great conditions to spot whales.  The trip was a success as we headed for home after spotting and spending time with just about all of the 4 Minkes, 8 Fin whales, 5 Humpback whales, and 1 Basking shark we saw today.

While we saw lots of Fin whales throughout our travels today it was the trio of Fin whales that probably stole the show.  All three whales remained associated with each other the entire time we watched them synchronizing their activities.  Surfacing together and going on deeper dives together these animals had quite the choreographed movements about them.  A few times we had this group just alongside the boat making it quite impressive to see 3 of the second largest animals in the world cruising along. 
The interesting blotch on this whale helps to distinguish it from the other two whales of the group

A bright whale lower jaw and the chevron patterns of these two Fin whales
On top of the fact that we had three of these mammals together, we were equally excited to learn one of these whales was a well known visitor to Jeffreys Ledge.  Low and behold we had Ladder the Fin whale. 
While this was the first time for the 2012 season to come across Ladder we really should not have been surprised to see one of the trio be this specific whale.  Fin whales tend to be solitary in their movements so typically we see these animals on their own during our whale watches.  Every now and then a couple, or few, Fin whales may join together for a time being, but more often than not a Fin whale will maneuver through the water on its own.  Over the years though this does not appear to be the case for one particular Fin whale: Ladder.  Ladder has a tendency to be seen almost ALWAYS associated with at least one other Fin whale.  The Blue Ocean Society has been tracking Fin whales on Jeffreys Ledge for the past 10 years and it is amazing that this animal certainly appears to enjoy moving through the water with a friend!  With a whale friend or not we are happy to see Ladder back again for another season!
Ladder and friend going on a dive

Through the Fin whale movement, and Minke whales popping up almost every time we stopped to watch whales, we also got a chance to see another species; Humpback whales.  Turns out we ended up spending time with a solitary Humpback whale along with two mother/calf pairs.  Our first Humpback whale of the day was Pregunta.  This whale spent a lot of time zigging and zagging around the area.
Pregunta the Humpback whale
As for our pairs we spent time with Pinball and calf, and Clamp and calf today.  We saw Pinball yesterday but it has been a couple of weeks since we last saw Clamp and her calf, all of which were in different portions of Jeffreys Ledge from their previous sightings.  Both calves were being active. Pinball's calf was doing tight circles, surfacing with its mouth open, and even keeping us hostage for a few minutes as this whale decided to hang out right next to the boat! 
Pinball's calf poking its head out with its mouth open
Pinball's calf deciding to show us its unique black and white pattern
Clamp's calf on the other hand did a few tail slashes, rolled upside-down a few times, appeared to be nursing, and then decided to take a quick nap!  Lots of behaviors and lots of great looks at both pairs of whales.
Clamp and her calf

On our way home we even saw one other species of marine life.  It was a Basking shark.  This large fish at one point decided to come directly in towards the boat.  I guess when you are the second largest shark in the ocean maybe you do not get scared by much! 

Many thanks to our eager passengers as everyone was doing a great job spotting so many whales!  We'll see what tomorrow has in store for us as we look forward to heading back out in the morning.

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