Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday August 30

Our trip today brought us back to an area where whales have been lurking around Jeffreys Ledge recently and were happy to see as we made our way into the area the whales were still there.  We got the chance to spend time with 4 Humpback whales today.  Once again it was apparent most of them were taking some naps.  Our first stop was on a pair.  It was Owl and Ember. 
Ember and Owl
Ember has been spending A LOT of time south of us thanks to a current project with folks at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.  Ember is one of the whales that got tagged this season as a project to learn more about the tags themselves and the movements of some of the whales in the Gulf of Maine.  To check out Ember's movements and more about the project check out the Satellite Tag Humpback Whale Project.  No only was it exciting to see Ember today, this is the first time this whale has been sighted on Jeffreys Ledge at all this season.  To make things ever more interesting it was swimming alongside Owl, another favorite whale we on the Granite State are especially fond of.  Two fun whales and both just slowly moving around the area!

As we ventured in search of more whale activity we caught a quick glimpse at a Blue shark.  This shark stayed just below the surface and did not seem to mind us sneaking over to it to catch a quick look before heading over to more whales spouts.  It was a fun, random sighting, of a fish we don't always get the chance to find while out on the open ocean.

Blue shark swimming along (dorsal fin on the right, tail on the left)
As we eased our way from the shark to the whales we quickly realized we had a mother and her calf Humpback pair nearby.  The calf was on the surface for a long, long time.  For the first part of our time in the area we didn't even see mom.  Finally mom surfaced just ahead of the calf and we knew we were watching Clamp and her calf!  The last time we saw this pair was on July 17.  A month and a half later these two are back!  We ended up watching the calf nap on the surface almost the entire time we were in the area. 
The waves were increasing in size and caused Clamp's calf to pop up most of the top of its head above the surface to get a good breath of air!
A few times mom was swimming just below the calf but, with a bit of wave action offshore this afternoon, it was a bit tricky to see if the two of them were actually touching or just swimming extremely close to one another.  Regardless we were able to spend some incredible quality time with this pair. 
Clamp and her calf surfacing for some air as they swim directly into the waves
The calf started to swish its tail side to side at one point and even rolled ever so slightly during the process allowing us to see a bit of the whale's unique pigmentation pattern!
Eventually the calf woke up and exhibited some nursing behaviors.  Even whales wake up from naps and get hungry just like us humans!

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