Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's the Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone! We finally had some favorable conditions to work with today. No fog and not a lot of wind had us all eager to go searching for whale life out on Jeffreys Ledge. Turned out our first stop of the day wasn't a whale at all. We came across a Blue shark circling around a milk carton that was bobbing up and down on the ocean's surface. At first we thought maybe this shark was attempting to eat the debris! Not only is a milk carton not food it is an extremely scary object for a piece of this jug could do some serious damage to this shark if swallowed potentially even causing its death. All debris (including ALL the balloons we keep seeing out sad) can be extremely detrimental to all creatures in the ocean. Watching this shark be so involved with this particular item was very disturbing indeed. Luckily it turned out this shark wasn't trying to eat the carton at all. It was actually using the carton as a rubbing rock. 
White milk carton at the surface while our Blue shark swims next to it
Blue sharks have been seen, not often but occasionally, using floating logs as a much more natural item to rub themselves on. Whether this shark was trying to get something irritating off its skin or perhaps just had an itch I have no idea but, it was still a very cool look at this Blue shark. While we left the carton for the shark to continue with its exfoliation process we did retrieve a balloon in the area to help do our part to save marine life. Unfortunately we can't pick up every piece of trash we see out there (we would seriously be out there 24/7 doing so!) we all get very saddened to see so many potential health hazards floating around out there. Please be mindful of all trash on land so all the living things in the ocean can continue to thrive.

This morning we also got a chance to see 5 Minke whales throughout our travels. At one point we had 4 in the same general area. We ended up getting some great looks as the whales surfaced along side the boat and circled all around.
Minke whale
This afternoon we headed to where we had seen all the Minke whales from the morning and were once again still in the area. Guess what? We even saw a couple of the same ones! Just like some of the other whale species we see on Jeffreys Ledge we can use their dorsal fin shapes, body scars, or small nicks found on the fins to tell Minke whales apart from each other. Granted we've been focusing more on this aspect for just the past couple of years but it was still fun to see that at least one of the whales from this morning was still circling around this afternoon. 
The same Minke whale seen on both trips. Above: the morning trip. Below: the afternoon whale watch.

As we spent a little more time with the Minke whales in the area, word on the radio that one of our other Blue Ocean Society affiliated whale watching boat, Starfish, had found another species. A Fin whale was out on the ledge! Can you believe it? We literally went through the same area in the morning and did not seen any signs of a Fin whale. Then just hours later a whale! It just goes to remind us that these whales truly can easily move into or out of an area at any time! The sighting got even more exciting when we realized this was Dingle the Fin whale. We last saw this whale almost a week ago on June 26. Dingle was also constantly changing directions and circling around very similarly to the Minke whales we had spent time with earlier in the day. We even saw this whale surface filtering out lots of salt water from its mouth. This whale's lower jaw was extended out allowing for a lot more surface area to gulp in as much food and subsequently lots of salt water in one giant mouthful! What a special treat to end the trip with today.
Dingle surfaces while filtering out all the salt water in its mouth and keeping the food inside!

Hope everyone has a safe and joyful Independence Day and remember to properly dispose of all your trash wherever you may be. And an extra special thank you to one of our passengers today who so matter-of-fact-ly stated he would never allow a balloon to fly away ever again...Absolutely fantastic. The ocean thanks you!

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