Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday July 10

It was a "Grand Slam" kind of morning today.  When all was said and done we had gotten the chance to see, and spend time with, 4 different species of whales out on Jeffreys Ledge this morning.  We started our trip off with three species all in the same area.  We had a couple Minke whales surfacing near by and made our way over to a pair of Humpback whales.  It was Pinball and her calf. 
Pinball's tail and her calf's back and dorsal fin
Once again it was a delight spending time with these two animals who gave all of us a nice look as both Mom and her calf swam along the entire length of the boat from stern to pulpit at one point!  Wow.

Once our pair had moved further away from the boat we started the engines and eased our way out of the area to go check out the other spouts we were seeing just out in the distance.  We got the chance to see two different Fin whales as they were making their way through the area.  No wonder there were whales around.  We were going over HUGE patches of bait!
We were in less than 200ft of water and sometimes the food encompassed the entire water column!

Not only had we witnessed Pinball making bubble clouds to corral the schooling fish, we also witnessed a large Fin whale creating its own massive cloud of bubbles!  The population of Atlantic Humpback whales are known to make bubble clouds to catch their food but to see similar clouds being caused from a Fin whale... really???  While we don't really know what/why this particular Fin whale was doing under the water we saw quite a large cloud of bubbles appear just before it would return to the surface for a breath of air (which is extremely similar to what a Humpback whale does as well when it is feeding further down in the water column).  Maybe Fin whales in the Gulf of Maine are learning some techniques from the Humpback whale population they share the area with?  It was something completely unique and very exciting as we wonder about the mysteries that still exist with some of these majestic mammals.
The super unique chevron pattern (silver/gray shading pattern) from this Fin whale as it swims from left to right

Our ride home took a slight detour as our "eagle-eyed" captain spotted splashing out in the distance.  Though we had heard of dolphins moving through the area earlier in the morning we also knew those whales were on the move.  We thought we were out of luck since Atlantic white-sided dolphins are such fast swimmers they can easily be out of sight in a very short period of time.  But alas we saw the tell-tale sign of splashes!
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
The dolphins were feverishly trucking to the south and knew we only had minutes to spend before they took us further from home.  It was a nice surprise to end the trip with and an affirmation that it is very possible to spot marine life really at any point during the trip when you are out on the open ocean!
Dolphins on the move!

This afternoon we first stopped on an extremely cooperative Minke whale.  This animal kept surfacing on either side of the boat giving folks all around the boat views of this mammal. 
Minke whale
A few times our whale surfaced so close alongside the boat you could see the "Minke mittens," a white patch on the flippers of these animals that is unique to this species.
Minke whale as it rises to the surface for a breath of air.  Can you spot the Minke mittens in the two photos(above and below)?

Our friends aboard the Prince of Whales were finishing up their trip and once they maneuvered out of the area we got the chance to spend time with a few other marine mammals.  It was two Humpback whales out in the distance.  Both whales were taking short dives and not moving terrible far.  We first spent time with Doric, a whale born in 2001. 
A few bubble clouds later we let Doric continue on with its day and we went to go investigate what other Humpback whale was lurking around.  Turns out Dyad was also circling the area.  We got some very nice looks at Dyad before it was time to head home. 

Dyad going on a deeper dive
Dyad's black and white pigmentation pattern
Plenty of life continues out on Jeffreys Ledge.  Feel free to come check it out for yourself sometime!

No comments:

Post a Comment