Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday August 3

This morning we dealt with quite an unexpected guest... a grand swell out on the open ocean.  The wind was minimal so other than the constant up and down motion (for some: fun, for others: not so much fun) we rocked up and down as we headed toward Jeffreys Ledge.  With a bit of hazy conditions to deal with we ventured to areas we've recently been seeing whales and slowed the boat down.  We took our time searching for signs of whales as we eased our way around.  Soon there was a spout!  It was a Fin whale.  As we came into the area we could tell this whale was filtering out lots of salt water.  This whale was doing some morning feeding.  Almost each time it surfaced after a dive this whale was coming up with its lower jaw maxed out to capacity holding lots of ocean water and food inside! 
The white lower jaw (green sheen) of this Fin whale as this whale continues filtering out water this morning

A few times we were convinced the whale preferred the stern of our boat as it kept surfacing just beyond us.  Lots of circling, lots of filtering, and lots of incredible looks at this animal! 
This whale is HUGE! You can see the tip of its head(right) all the way to its dorsal fin (left) but keep in mind we still are missing the tailstock and tail of this whale!

We were even able to match it to our Fin whale catalog as a whale first sighted on Jeffreys Ledge in 2009, it was #0931. 
Fin whale #0931 surfacing for a breath of air and filtering out lots of salt water all at the same time
After our great looks we continued further offshore and ended up coming across a few more Fin whales.  One stop was on a pair of whales as they moved through the water together.  We spent some time with these Fin whales, spotted a few more, and even got the chance to take a look at a Blue shark before it was time to head for home.
Blue shark swimming from right to left

We knew we had gotten some wonderful looks at some of the second largest animals in the world this morning so we knew it would be hard-pressed to top that this afternoon.  Only the ocean knew what was in store for us.  This afternoon was spotted a spout from a whale and began to make our way into the area only to start seeing more and more spouts in all directions.  We were making our way to the closest whale, a Humpback whales, when we began to try to count just how many other whales were in the vicinity.  We got a chance to spend time with Ballpark the Humpback whale who was moseying on through the area while also seeing a single Fin whale out in the distance.

However, the other excitement was coming from out in the distance and heading our way.  A group of at least 5 Fin whales (perhaps a few more!) were moving through the water together.  The spouts keep rising from the surface as we couldn't even tell which animal was breathing when because so many tall column-like blows keeps appearing.  It was incredible.  The group passed just beyond Ballpark and at one point anywhere you may have been aboard the boat, there was a whale spouting near by!

Ballpark off on another dive
Ballpark began to move in the opposite direction and we stayed with this whale one last time before making our way in the opposite direction to get some looks at our moving mass of Fin whales.  The group began to separate before getting to the area as we saw at least 3 whales off our left side and two more Fin whales off our right side.  Even with our whales venturing off in different directions it was great seeing so many of these animals off either side of the boat!  We were about to decide which group to stay closer to when we got word on the radio that one of the other boats had some dolphins.  They weren't Atlantic white-sided though which are typically the type of dolphins we see.  No, our friends aboard the Atlantic Queen had found a pod of Risso's dolphins!!!!!
Such the unique looking animal known as a Risso's dolphin!
Risso's dolphin as a Wilson's Storm Petrel flys by
It has been 5 years since someone on the crew of the Granite State has seen this type of marine mammal and we all spend a lot of time on the ocean.  What an incredible opportunity!!!  As much as we wanted to stay near our Fin whales we knew we couldn't pass up the chance to head over to the rare sighting!!!  There were around 15 Risso's in this pod and as they circled around you could watch their lighter colored bodies under the water as they moved like green clouds before rising to the surface for a breath of air. 
Circling around the area moving around together
Lighter colored Risso's dolphin in the group
Such a completely unexpected sighting and truly elated to see these most interesting whales in our part of the ocean!
Dark eyeball from one of our dolphins!

Even after having left the group of Fin whales we were not done with that species as we even got a nice look at another Fin whale moving through the area as we spent time with the Risso's.  Life was everywhere. 
One of the many Fin whales seen this afternoon
All in all we ended up seeing at least 10 Fin whales this afternoon along with Ballpark and our toothed-whale visitors the Risso's dolphins. 
Scars along this whales body (unfortunately due to human interactions at some point during its life) does help us to tell this particular Fin whale apart from others of its kind
Do I dare ask what will tomorrow bring?

No comments:

Post a Comment