Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday July 16

I have a feeling some of our passengers were beginning to get a bit concerned as we did not stop to take a look at our first three whale sightings of the day today.  Many times as soon as we spot anything we like to stop and take a look as we definitely don't want to have any "bad whale karma!" for the rest of the trip.  However, we kept hearing from fishing boats that there were whales scattered around further offshore.  We knew if we just kept pressing on we would have the chance to spend a bit more time with whatever was closer to Jeffrey Ledge.  As much as we always enjoy our Minke whale "friends" in the ocean we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to view whatever was being seen by the eyes of our fishing friends out on the Ledge.

Any hesitations our passengers may have felt earlier quickly subsided when we eased our way towards our first pair of whales.  Our friends aboard the Atlantic Queen were ending their time with the whales and so we slowly made our way towards the pair to start our trip with.  The pair of whales were Humpback whales and as we made our way into the general area we began seeing more tell-tale signs of whales; more tails were out in almost every direction!  There were even more Humpback whales around.  The pair we first saw together had split up and so we ended up maneuvering over to spend time with one of the whales named Zorro. 
Zorro a new animal to add to the list of whales seen on Jeffreys Ledge this season!
We spent some time getting looks at this 35+ year old whale(!!!) circling around the area before we decided to check out some of the other spouts not too far out in the distance.  As we made our way to another Humpback whale we quickly got a look at yet a different animal go down for a dive.  A quick snap of a picture and we knew Spar was also out on Jeffreys Ledge.  We actually saw Spar on our very first whale watching trip this year, all the way back on May 12!  Over two months later and this particular animal was seen once again on the Ledge.  For an animal that can reach bursts of speeds of 16mph, I can only imagine where Spar has been moving around in the Gulf of Maine and was very excited to find this 24 year old back in our area once again!
Spar from a distance

As Spar kept surfacing out in the distance we eased our way towards another Humpback whale.  Without even seeing this whale's tail we knew exactly who it was.  Hello again Owl!  Owl too had been seen earlier this season, was then spotted south of our area, and has once again graced us with her 26 year old self.

As we were watching Owl out in the distance an unexpected, and large, splash was seen!  Another whale was breaching.  Even further away everyone got the chance to see a whale jumping out of the water!  Due to the fact there were at least 3 other Humpback whales in between us and the aerial active animal we knew  there was no way we were zipping over there.  All whales have as much a right to do what they do and go where they go, as much as we do sharing in their environment.  A mutual respect occurs any time we are watching such massive creatures and so in the vicinity of such wildlife we began to slowly make our way over to the other Humpback whale.  After knowing the location of Owl, Spar, and Zorro, and always being vigilant in case another animal had come into the area could we slowly maneuver our way over.  Turns out as we proceed to the active whale another animal surfaced and went on a deeper dive.  The distance photograph was good enough as it was yet another Humpback whale.  Triangle, a whale first spotted in the Gulf of Maine in 1986 was near by! Another new whale on Jeffreys Ledge this season. 
The more time we were spending in the area the more whales we were getting the chance to see.  Interesting enough, all the animals were "older" adults.  The whales we were surrounded by were all at least in their mid-20s.  As we pressed on even from a distance our breaching whale was impressive and once we got a bit closer we also were treated to lots of flipper slapping!  Nothing like a 1-ton, bright white flipper, being "waved" high above the waterline. 
Half of Barb's tail (black) and one large white flipper!
Flipper air in the air
Only once this whale decided to cease such activity were we able to see the underside of our active animal.  It was Barb, another adult; 25 years old to be exact.
Many times you don't even need to see the entire tail to be able to determine who a whale is. Such was the case with Barb today

As we spent time with Barb we watched as this animal swam in a direction towards one of the other animals nearby.  Soon both Barb and Zorro were moving through the water together.  We had gone from seeing Barb being quite active, to swimming towards and now becoming associated with, another animal.  It is so interesting to witness such a spectrum of behaviors from any whale and wonder what/why it causes them to do any of it.  Such mysterious and majestic mammals all at the same time. 

We spotted another pair of spouts and tails from a couple other Humpback whales out in the distance.  Unfortunately they were even further away than the ones we were watching so we did not get a chance to see exactly who else was swimming around but no worries, we had plenty enough whale excitement going on close by!  It was a wonderful day out on the water and a great way to spend the afternoon.

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