Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday October 6

Even though the ocean itself made for some extra motion while out on the water today our hardy passengers were undeterred as we spent time watching all kinds of whales today.  Our grand total for the day was a "Grand Slam"  of species (4 to be exact) of a Fin whale, Minke whale, pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and 7 Humpback whales!

We were delighted to see a Fin whale for our first sighting of the day for Fin whales have seemed to be a bit sparse recently.  This whale was spending a bit of time under the water and only surfacing for a few breaths at a time but this "greyhound of the sea" certainly wasn't moving around too quickly.  One of the second largest animals in the world was circling around the area before it began to head in a direction opposite of where we wanted to make our way towards.  With a few more breaths of air we watched as this whale continued on with its day and we decided to continued on with ours.  Soon another spout was spotted just ahead of us.

A different species was in the area.  It was a Humpback whale.  As this whale swam at the surface we quickly realized this was another new visitor to Jeffreys Ledge.  This whale's dorsal fin was so interestingly shaped and scarred that even without seeing the black and white pattern on this whale's tail we knew a new whale was in our midst. 
Notchy's very unique dorsal fin

Unfortunately the entire time we watched this whale, as it went on a deeper dive, this animal would just barely bring its tail to the surface of the ocean.  Luckily our whale-wise crew member had an inkling as to who it might be.  Once getting back on land and verifying the tail we indeed knew who we spent time watching today.  Notchy the Humpback whale was in our area!  This whale spent most of the time circling around and just before leaving we were greeted to an extra "present" left at the surface.  A red cloud began to form as Notchy went on a deeper dive.  We had whale poop!  Looks like Notchy had recently had been consuming krill and was getting rid of some digested waste!  Definitely not something many people expect, or normally, get a chance to see.  We left Notchy to continue circling around and soon we were off again to do some more exploring.  Soon word on the radio from our fellow whale watching friends aboard the Prince of Whales had a few whales around.

We made our way to the area and soon became surrounded by whale life.  We initially saw at least 6 Humpback whales near by.  These animals were separated into two groups of three and as we awaited for them all to resurface more whale activity became apparent close by.  A group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were coming in towards us.  Suddenly we had dolphins surfacing all around us!  These whales were constantly changing direction and charging up and down the waves.  This particular pod was a blast to watch.  They would travel and then just as quickly turn in the complete opposite direction and swim right in towards us and right alongside the boat.  What a fun sighting!
Atlantic white-sided dolphins on the move right into the waves
Dolphins "flying" through the area
In between all this activity we slowly made our way over towards some of the Humpback whales.  This group was a pair and as they swam through the area, the dorsal fin from one of these whales instantly was recognized.  Even without seeing this whale's tail we knew another Humpback whale had come to Jeffreys Ledge.  Sword was back!  This whale has yet to be seen this season in our area and low and behold it was swimming with another whale we've seen on Jeffreys Ledge in the past.  Grommet was right alongside Sword.  It was great seeing more familiar tail patterns close to home!
Sword's exhalation is visible just beyond Grommet's tail

Our last looks of the day were spent with another group of Humpback whales.  Turns out Owl, Spoon, Chromosome, and Partition were all side by side. 
Owl, Chromosome, and Partition on the move together
Spoon and Chromosome
Owl, Spoon, and Partition currently at the surface
Over the past few days these whales have been in some combination of association with each other and only today did we get the chance to witness all of these adult whales moving in synchrony with each other.  What a way to end a day full wildlife everywhere.
Owl and Spoon both in the process of swimming further down into the depths of the ocean

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