Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday August 25

Where to start today?  The weather could not have been better so that in and of itself was just incredible.  Add into the mix the fact that we saw LOTS of whales during both trips today and you couldn't ask for anything more.  Well at least we certainly don't believe so.

The day consisted of "Grand Slams" on both trips.  We saw and spent time with our four most commonly seen whale species on each of our adventures to Jeffreys Ledge.  Any day you see just one whale is wonderful so really to get the chance to see multiple species in such great ocean conditions truly does not get any better.

Our first stop this morning was on a group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins.  This pod was generally on the move but diverted course a few times to swim in our wake as we maneuvered in their direction.
Great day for watching dolphins!
Such dolphins are always an added treat, not only to see them in general, but to watch these wild animals choose to jump through our wake is completely a decision they make, not us.  We left our whales to continue on their movements as we headed out towards Jeffreys.  The ocean truly resembled a lake throughout the entire day so spotting whales was constant as we traveled. Minke whales surfaced and when we got to the ledge Fin whales started to surface.  Out in the distance we saw a few other Fin whales but ended up with some incredible looks at two of these large mammals as the surfaced right alongside the boat! 
Fin whale spout
Two of the many Fin whales seen this morning (above and below)
With some incredible looks we continued on our way and ended up coming into an area where were started to see multiple spouts.  Before making our way to the whales there was more disturbance just ahead of us.  A small group of fish were on the move.  As this group constantly jumped out of the water we can only imagine there must have been something lurking below the water's edge chasing after them! 
Fish swimming/leaping/jumping away!
As for the whales, all the spouts we were seeing were from a different species.  There were Humpback whales everywhere.  We spent a bit of time with a trio of these animals.  Fulcrum, Perseid, and Valley were all together, all females, and all sleeping on the surface. 
Valley and Fulcrum at the surface while Perseid is off on a deeper dive
Without even seeing their tails you can see just how drastically different these animals' back can look in comparison to each other.
An unfortunate "band of misfits" as 2 o the 3 whales are basically lacking or have terribly mangled dorsal fins

Luckily even with the interesting dorsal fins we must all remember these whales are still around, swimming and acting like all the other whales, we see out here.  They are alive and well.  As we left our trio to continue with their napping behaviors we ended up watching Patches next.  This whale was circling around the area and gave us some nice looks as this whale also decided to surface right alongside the boat!
Patches (above and below)

Before wrapping up the trip we watched another pair of Humpback whales move into the area.  Clipper and Bolide were on the move together. 
Clipper's large and in charge body
Bolide going on a deeper dive
A few looks at them and yet another small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins in a feeding frenzy on our way home made for an all-around incredible trip.  What a plethora of activity this morning as we started to only imagine what the afternoon trip might bring.

Little did we know with all the whales we had seen and spent time with this morning none of the whales were were the same individuals we saw this afternoon (except we believe for the dolphins!).  On our travels back to the ledge this afternoon we once again encountered a group of dolphins.  This pod was most definitely larger than our morning groups and yet we believe perhaps our two morning groups may had formed together over the course of the morning hours.  A few of the dorsal fin photos captured from this morning's and afternoon's pods verified at least a few of the same dolphins were being seen but regardless we were excited to spend time with such a fun sighting to start off our afternoon.
More dolphins!
Our next whales abruptly started to appear all at the same time.  Once on the ledge we soon spotted Fin whales, Humpback whales, and yet another group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins.  Where to start!?!?!  We made our way towards the dolphins as we soon noticed larger whales were in the mix of the toothed whales.  The dolphins were swimming in tandem with a trio of Fin whales. 
Dolphins swimming out in front of the Fin whales
Once the Fin whales resurfaced, three turned into FIVE Fin whales AND the dolphins all on the move together!!!!  A couple of the Fin whales in this group were identified as Ladder and #0308 along with #0834 seen just beyond the group paired up with a different Fin whale in the area.  Inter species craziness is pretty much what we were seeing.  Very rarely do we see Fin whales grouped up together, let alone five, all the while having a group of 25-30 Atlantic white-sided dolphins shift to their every moment.... spectacular. 
Fin whale #0308 at the surface with a few of the "escorting" Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
Oh but that wasn't all.  Along with the 11 Fin whales we counted in total throughout the afternoon trip we also counted 5 Minke whales and 6 Humpback whales in the area.

The Humpback whales were spending a good bit of time under the water making it a bit challenging to decided where to maneuver the boat to attempt to get a look at any of these whales.  Eventually our patience paid off as we got some great looks at a few of these whales circling around.  We were able to identity Howler, Jabiru, and Tusk in the area.  The others seemed to be surfacing for a single breath so we decided to stick with the whales a bit closer to us.
Can you find the coyote "howling" at the moon?  Hint: the answer is on the right-hand side of this whale's tail

Such was the case today when sometimes we can identify these wild whales by their dorsal fins instead of their pigmented tails for this is Jabiru the Humpback whale
Just before heading for home Tusk decided to change things up.  All of a sudden this whale began tail breaching, lobtailing, and even rolling over on its belly and continuing to lobtail.  This whale was out in the distance all on its own and yet suddenly became active.  Researchers still do not know why whales do such activity but when you happen to be in the right place at the right time and witness such the behavior it is breath-taking.

Yes there were lots of whales today but the shear number of animals was not what made this day so great.  The fantastic weather coupled with some incredible looks at just a few of the many mammals seen today was just the beginning.  Having lots of first-time whale watchers, Birthday celebrations, and plenty of familiar returnees along with what Mother Nature had in store for us today is really what made this day so fantastic.

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