Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday June 28

There was a bit of land breeze today and at first glance thought perhaps it might be a bit breezy out on the ocean.  Clearly, that was not the case at all.  It was absolutely beautiful!  The only motion of the ocean was a meandering swell as the wind quickly dissipated and eventually disappeared all together resulting in lake-like conditions throughout our travels this morning.

Our first whale of the morning was a Fin whale moving through the area.  Initially this whale was seen in an area where there were at least 3 Minke whales circling about but we quickly learned this whale had other plans.  Within minutes this whale was out ahead of us and we ended up playing a game of "catch."  This whale was on the move and we were attempting our best to stay within the movements of this Fin whale.  We were able to get a few looks before the whale would be under the water once more, moving in a direction only the whale knew before surfacing out in the distance once again.  Sometime these whales have their own plans that involve NOT being watched by our passengers (which can and does happen when you are dealing with wild animals!) so off we were to check out other areas of Jeffreys Ledge.

Soon we came across another Fin whale.  This whale was behaving quite differently than our first.  This enormous mammal was pretty much just circling the area as with each breath the whale took it would effortlessly swim in an arc.  We were able to get some incredible looks since this whale was being so slow in its movements allowing us to easily stay parallel to it. 
Fin whale spout
Turns out, thanks to the dorsal fin and chevron pattern, we were able to recognize this whale as one of the same animals we had seen just yesterday.  The coolest part was, after spending more time looking through our Fin Whale Catalog we knew exactly who this animal was.  It was #0837!  This whale was first sighted by Blue Ocean Society affiliates in 2008 and while it has been a few years it is great to know this whale decided to return back to Jeffreys Ledge this year.
Fin whale #0837's head

#0837's body and dorsal fin
The trip wasn't over as after spending more time with #0837 who even suddenly had another Fin whale surface alongside for just a moment (and then moved off in their own separate directions!) we had come across a group of toothed whales.

We had about 30-40 Atlantic white-sided dolphins!  It has been well over a month and a half since we've last gotten the chance to see these whales and were super excited to have that streak end! 
Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Conditions were spectacular as the flat calm ocean allowed everyone to follow our group of whales as they swam at the surface and even sometimes below the surface!  What a great way to end our morning.

This afternoon also started with a Fin whale but a different animal just a few miles past the Isles of Shoals.  This whale spent a little time circling the area before making its way further north.  Since we wanted to head offshore, not towards the Maine coast, we left our whale and continued to scan the horizon for more whale activity. 
Fin whale just off the port side before it decided to venture further away
More activity appeared out in the distance as we saw plenty of splashing up ahead of us.  We had found more dolphins!  Our afternoon crowd also got the opportunity to spend time with a group of ~30 animals.  Such a fun species to watch as Atlantic white-sided dolphins every second sometimes appear to change directions.
More Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
Active dolphins

Further offshore, thanks to our friends on the Atlantic Queen, we came into an area where we had a handful of Fin whales around.  At least 5 of these whales were scattered about.  They all appeared to come up for a few breaths and spend considerably more time under water but we ended up getting some great looks at a pair of these animals as they grouped up and swam just off our starboard side.  Another great way to end the trip as the whole time we were in the area we were not watching any animals surface in association with another.  Who knows how long those two animals remained side-by-side but it was great to see them in their grandeur so close to each other and the boat!

Fin whale #1 of the 2 that decided to join together for a few breaths
Fin whale #2 of our pair

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