Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday September 8

The ocean was a bit on the wild side today and knowing things were only supposed to get even more "exciting" we only had one trip instead of two today.  While the ocean was a rockin' and a rollin' the whales certainly didn't seem to mind a bit more wave activity.  Our trip started with 2 Fin whales.  Both whales were constantly changing direction, circling around the area, so it was a bit challenging to keep track of both whales.  However, we did have a little extra help regarding one of our Fin whales.  A small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were escorting one of the whales in the area!  Since these dolphins can only hold their breath for 2-3 minutes at a time they were surfacing much more frequently than the Fin whale they were following.  By maneuvering the boat alongside the dolphins we were hoping eventually the Fin whale would appear.  Of course we are also thrilled when these predictions work, as it did today!  While watching the dolphins suddenly a massive spout occurred right in the center of these toothed-whales.  We got some great looks as this enormous Fin whale was constantly having the dolphins surface just in front of it.  This whale was even identified as #9709, a known female, since we were able to predict its surfacings by moving along with the dolphins!
Occasionally we get the chance to see this type of inter-species association and it is certainly something we thoroughly enjoy watching when a dolphin reaching between 5-8ft in length swims next to a whale well over 8x's that size (adult Fin whales can easily reach lengths of over 60ft)!!!

With more reports of whales a few more miles away we decided to get a bit more ocean action and spend time with a few more whales before heading home.  We ended up having 6 Humpback whales in the area.  Half of these whales were further offshore surfacing out in the distance so we decided to stick with a few of the animals a bit closer to us.  Turns out we first had Patches swim by before spending most of our time with more known females: Valley and Nile. 
Patches traveling through the area
Originally these whales were moving through the area on their own as Nile was circling around while Valley full-body breached once in a completely separate area. 
Valley was very slowly raising her tail high into the sky before disappearing into the ocean
Valley's unique black and white marking found on the underside of its tail
Soon however the two surfaced side-by-side and both started to rest.  These two whales were remaining just at the surface and moved up and down with the waves as much as we were.  We got some incredible looks at both of these whales before we were out of time.
Nile and Valley rock with the ocean waves as both remain resting at the surface allowing us some great looks.  The green coloration is these whales' flippers under the water
Nile going on a deeper dive while Valley still sleeps on the surface
Tomorrow is another day and we look forward to seeing what we may encounter as we will once again be back out in search of more wildlife!

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