Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday August 9

This morning's adventures out to Jeffreys Ledge was even more of an adventure as we ended up constantly going in, and out, of fog.  Rye Harbor and the first handful of miles offshore were gorgeous but there lurking on the horizon was the "cloud of nothingness."  After a nice look circling around a group of Harbor porpoise we were soon engulfed by the fog and ended up breaking through and getting "trapped" throughout the rest of our morning's movements.  The good news... we were heading to an area where there had been plenty of whale activity yesterday afternoon.  A great place to start looking for whales, even in the fog, is somewhere where they have been seen recently.  As we maneuvered the boat to Jeffreys Ledge we soon began slowing down as we were coming into the area.  Just as we slowed down the dense fog lifted just enough to see further away from the boat and a Minke whale surfaced near by.  A few looks at this whale and suddenly there was another whale behind us.  It was a different species.  A Humpback had just made itself known.  More time, better visibility, and suddenly we realized there were 4 Humpback whales and a handful of Minke whales around.  We got a chance to get some incredible looks at two of the four Humpback whales in the area as Bat and Crystal were circling around.  Both whales were doing some feeding further down in the depths of the ocean as both whales were producing remnants of bubble clouds nearby when they returned back up for some more air.  At one point Bat even circled around the entire boat, taking lots of breaths, giving everyone (without even moving) an incredible look at this adult whale! 
Bat (above and below) heading down on a deeper dive

As we enjoyed time with the two whales closer to us we were going to ease our way to the other whales in the area and try to identify them but Mother Nature had other plans.  The fog started to roll back in and we soon lost sight of the other animals in the distance.  Knowing Crystal and Bat had been circling around we attempted to stay put and relocate either one of these whales.  We  found Crystal one last time before the whales and the sea once again disappeared beyond the fog. 
Crystal's back and dorsal fin out of the fog
Crystal in the fog
We decided to slowly make our way out of the area and attempt to find some more visibility to give us more chances of finding other whales.  We knew whales were around for every time we found a whale, usually a Minke first, at least another Humpback whale was around.  Two more Humpback whales were seen but we were unable to determine exactly who they were for they too disappeared into the area beyond our line of sight.  As we turned for home the wind picked up and poof(!) the fog disappeared and we got a very quick look at yet another type of whale.  It was a Fin whale!  Even though this whale came up for a couple breaths before going on a deeper dive it was grand to see the amazing size difference between a 40-50ft Humpback whale and a 60-70+ft Fin whale.  Even with the fog providing an extra challenge this morning there was plenty of life on Jeffreys Ledge and we had gotten some wonderful looks at the whales in and out of the fog!

This afternoon we headed back to the same area and even with a bit of haze on the horizon we knew we had a good chance of finding at least some of the whales we had seen in the morning, if any of them decided to continue circling around the area.  Since many of the other fellow whale watching boats were also around and had relocated some of our morning whales we knew we had time to give the boats, and most importantly the whales, plenty of space to move around.  Having multiple whales in a vicinity is great as this minimizes any chance of "crowding" a whale with multiple boats.  We ended up getting some very nice looks at a Minke whale that was circling around the boat so much so that it kept showing up all around the vessel.  At one point this whale even rolled upside down underneath the water.  Soon we maneuvered to one of the reported whales in the area as it was a very familiar dorsal fin and tail, Bat was still in the area! 

Whale spout
Bat diving once again
With some more time to check out some of the other spouts in the area we made our way over to two other  whales.  It was two Humpback whales.  One was on either side of the boat slightly out in the distance when one of these whales decided to roll on it's side bringing a very large flipper high above the surface!  We were about to make our way towards that whale when the second one surfaced close by.  Looks like this whale had our attention a bit more considering it was just alongside the boat.  As we checked out this whale one of our crew members quickly informed us another type of marine life was close.  A sea turtle had just been seen off the left-hand side of the boat.  We knew there was a chance this turtle may get spooked by the boat and swim straight towards the bottom of the ocean but we were in luck as we soon saw a turtle head pop up above the water! 
Loggerhead turtle head!
We got the chance to shut off the engines and float alongside a Loggerhead turtle as it stayed just off one side of the boat while Hornbill surfaced just off the other side of the boat.  No one knew where to look!  It was awesome.  Nothing like spending time with a turtle AND a whale all in the same spot! 
Our turtle swimming around just below the ocean surface!
Loggerhead Turtle still maneuvering through the water off our port side!
With all the activity going on near by there was still another Humpback whale rolling at the surface, flipper slapping, just out in the distance!  Marine life was everywhere!

Once our turtle disappeared and Hornbill swam further away we knew we could make our way closer to the other whale in the area.  After making our way through a few Minke whales also in the area we got the chance to spend time with Crystal.  This whale had been actively smacking its flippers on the water and yet once again we fortunate enough to see this type of display not only from out in the distance, but close by, as this whale once again had it's flipper held high in the air!

Crystal sticking her tail (left) and flipper (right) out of the water
Our days are always unexpected whether it be the weather, the whales, or even sometimes other marine life that calls Jeffreys Ledge home in the summertime.  The best part is that along with all of our passengers we too have no idea what the trip is going to have in store for us.  Our love for the marine environment never disappears as many of you saw today just how excited we too can be to watch such wild creatures in their natural habitat.

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