Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday June 10

This season continues to be a rotating door as far as sightings go.  With almost every trip we end up seeing a new individual whale that graces us with its presence.  Today we were thrilled to spend some time with Owl the Humpback whale.  Not only is this whale a long time visitor to Jeffreys Ledge, this animal is one of our favorites aboard the boat!  Owl was most definitely doing some feeding below the ocean's surface as she created a few bubble clouds and even pooped at one point!  Typically when we spot whale poop you quickly catch a glimpse at the leftover remnants of food before a defecation cloud will dissipate in the water.  Based on the color we know Owl has recently been munching on some fish for the color of the defecation is a good indication as to what was recently undigested and passed through the whale's system!  Now you know whales poop too!
Owl with a brown patch (aka. poop!) just at the base of the tail on the ocean surface
We also spent time a few Minke whales, Clamp and her calf, and perhaps the most exciting sighting of the day for our passengers were the 2 Basking sharks we watched feeding.
Clamp with her calf nearby
Once we slowly made our way to the sharks we could see them with their mouths wide open as Basking sharks are filter feeders just like the whales!  A Basking shark will basically swim through the water with an open mouth allowing ocean water to constantly be pushed in to the mouth and out through the gills. 
The front half of a Basking shark with the nose on the left and dorsal fin breaking the surface of the water
Found on the gills are small hooks that end up capturing any plankton that attempts to pass by, whether it be plant plankton or animal plankton, and this is what the second largest shark in the world eats!  Did you know that Basking sharks do not even have teeth in their mouths?  It is sometimes shocking to realize that these large fish eat nothing other than some of the smallest creatures on Earth!

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