Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday September 22

Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone!  Even though there was a change in seasons today the whales were out and about in full force regardless of what we humans may determine what time of year it is.  We recorded at least 14 Fin whales and 8 Humpback whales throughout our travels today.  The truly crazy part of the day included the fact that we were seeing more spouts out in the distance than we had time to go investigate.  Wow, there were a lot of whales today.

Most of the animals we were in close proximity of today were constantly circling around the area filtering out lots of salt water while trapping plenty of food inside their mouths thanks to hundreds of baleen plates lining these whales' upper jaws.  Our Fin whales were either charging through the water, perhaps chasing after fish, or constantly surfacing with such force that many of  these whales were actively participating in the feeding frenzy that seemed to be occurring all around us today. 
If you look closely you can even see another Fin whale's spout in the background from this particular Fin whale seen in the foreground for whales were surfacing everywhere today!
Out of the many Fin whales seen today we were able to identify one of the whales out in the field as #9721, a Fin whale first seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 1997! 
Fin whale #9721
With all the whales seen today there is still plenty of matching to do as our Fin whale and Humpback whale photographs are keeping us quite busy on land as we attempt to match up all the whales spotted today.

As our Fin whales continued to constantly change direction around us we also got the chance to witness plenty of Humpback whales utilizing the area as well; consuming plenty of food themselves!  At one point we had three Humpback whales group up together and surface each time with mouths fully extended out filtering out gallons of seawater through their baleen plates!
Three Humpback whale heads at the surface filtering salt water out of all their mouths!
Eventually the trio broke apart as two animals continued surfacing side by side while the third Humpback whale moved off in its own direction. 
Even though this Humpback whale has very unique markings we are still in the process of finding a match in the Humpback Whale Catalog
Another currently unknown Humpback whale we are attempting to match up

From a research aspect it is so interesting to see the brief associations between these animals wondering why they may group up in the first place, and when/why they decide to move off in their own separate directions.  So mysterious and intriguing all at the same time... Once again it was a moment in time to be in the right place at the right time to witness these individual whales join forces for a few minutes before separating just a quickly.  Even after slightly splitting apart they still remained only yards from each other as they continued moving through the water on their own today. 
Two Humpback whales having very distant coloration patterns found on the underside of their tails
Two Humpback whales at the surface while moving around some fishing gear which can be some very threatening dangers to these whales as they move through the ocean chasing after fish

The more time we spent out on the water today the more spouts we continued to see and so eventually eased our way out of the immediate area to go check out some of the other spouts further offshore.  It didn't take long to once again encounter a few more whales.  Two Humpback whales appeared to be moving in towards all the other whale activity.  Thanks to a few quick photographs and some consulting with our friends from the Prince of Whales we were able to determine Hippocampus and Cinder as on the move together.
Hippocampus (above) was seen swimming in tandem with Cinder today
Looks like these whales wanted to get in on all the activity going on only a few miles from them.

Before heading home we also saw a few more Fin whales on the move as well as a couple more Humpback whales.  Zelle spent time circling, and filtering, around and we even passed by Vault on our way back towards Rye Harbor. 
Zelle's very unique black and white pigmentation pattern
Our travels home took us past yet another Humpback whale, Vault!

With so many whales around we wonder just how long the abundance of food will provide enough reason for these whales to stick around for the whales go wherever there is plenty of food for them to feed on.  It will surely be interesting to see what new surprises Jeffreys Ledge will provide for us tomorrow but it will most definitely be intriguing to go find out!

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