Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday July 12

Alas I was not on board for our morning whale watch but was informed that it was a very nice morning out on Jeffreys Ledge.  The first stop on whales was once again our mother/calf pair of Humpback whales, Pinball and calf, still spending time on Jeffreys Ledge.  It is amazing to think with all the 33,000 square miles of feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine, Pinball and her calf are still moseying around Jeffreys Ledge.  Only those creatures know why they go where they go, and for how long they stay, but it is always enjoyable to continue to see these mammals utilizing our small corner of their enormous habitat.  This pair was being quite mellow as Pinball didn't even appear to diving further down into the water column.  Both whales were just moseying around on the surface not quite napping but not quite moving a whole lot either.  Regardless, it was nice to spend time with this pair. 

Turns out the Humpbacks weren't the only pair around the area.  Of the three Fin whales spotted this morning two of them were swimming alongside each other, but this time the pair wasn't a mother and her calf.  It was two adult Fin whales.  Ladder(!) a whale more than 31 years old was swimming with Prong, a whale first sighted on Jeffreys Ledge in 2000.  To watch one large Fin whale nearby is impressive but to throw into the mix a second of the second largest creatures in the world is an experience.

This afternoon the wind was clearly not the 5-10 knots that had been forecasted for the day (as anyone on board could attest to) as the waves and wind churned up the ocean.  The wind had finally found its way back to the area as we have been getting spoiled with such flat seas recently.  But the wind did not deter the whales.  And for that matter, it did not deter our passengers as little did we know what was in store for us.  News of Pinball and her calf was updated to the boats this afternoon since in just a few hours this pair was being seen in a different location than where they had been spotted just this morning.  Soon we ventured towards the area.  Even as we started to get close you could see the splashing in the distance.  One of the whales was being quite active.  The behaviors continued as Katie our intern with the Blue Ocean Society on board recorded 31 different breaches for the short period of time we spent watching this pair.  It was the calf that decided to launch just about every part of its body above the ocean world: tail, head, and its full body out for all to see. 

Pinball's calf's lower jaw and visible pleats (lines/ridges running lengthwise down this whale)
Pinball's calf from tip to tail
The aftermath of what the ocean looks like when a whale returns to the water after being airborne
White flippers and all above the water
It was an exciting experience as many times these aerial activities can cease just a soon as they begin.  For whatever the reason the calf had no problem continuing with these antics for a few different whale watching boats around the area to witness.
Pinball's calf opened its mouth during this head breach showcasing its baleen plates (hanging from the upper jaw) to multiple boats
More leaps out of the water
It was a very special and unexpected way for our afternoon to progress.  With still more time to explore we left these two whales to continue with their day as we ventured further offshore.  Before heading home we got the chance to see another Humpback whale, doing some travelling, but got a few nice looks as this animal surfaced nearby.  It was Sedge the Humpback whale!
Sedge's dorsal fin
What a nice way to end our trip having the opportunity to watch this adult whale.  Perhaps we will see it again soon as we anticipate the unexpectedness of marine life on Jeffreys Ledge tomorrow!

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