Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 25

What a beautiful day on the water today. The weather held all day with blue skies and perfectly calm seas. The excellent sighting conditions allowed us to spend some quality time with some minke whales both in the morning and the afternoon.

This minke whale has some serious scarring.
 It is easy to see from the dorsal fins of these animals that we saw a variety of different animals. In fact, the animals seemed almost totally different in the afternoon from the morning. Dorsal fins are one of the main ways, we can identify individual minke whales.

This minke whale has a distinctively different dorsal fin.

Another way we can tell animals apart is from any scars on the body both natural markings and unnatural markings. You can see above, one of our minke whales totally had a large unnatural scar on its body. We suspect that this scar is from a serious interaction with a boat this whale experienced earlier in its life. We have pictures of this whale from as early as 1995 on the Granite State and at that point it had already acquired this scar. Since then, this whale has been sighted many times, so it seems like it has been able to survive well despite what must have been a serious injury more than 18 years ago.

What a cookie cutter of marks on this fin whales dorsal fin.
We also spotted a large slowly moving fin whale this morning. You can see this whale also has a unique dorsal fin. We believe it is a whale first seen in the area in the early 90s as well.

A morning minke whale sliding through the glassy water.
 We were reminded once again of how easily even the largest whales can disappear when we did not relocate the fin whale in the afternoon. Either the way used its great speed to move out of the area, or it was using its massive lung capacity to stay underwater for deep dives while we passed through. Nevertheless, we were rewarded with excellent sightings in the afternoon in addition to some great looks at about 3 minke whales apparently feeding in a small area. Out towards Jeffreys Ledge we spotted an Ocean Sunfish, one of the largest boney fishes in the world! This animal was just coasting slowly at the surface under the sun, living up to its name.

The wind picked up a tiny bit at the very end of the day giving these dolphins a chance to show off their expert swimming skills.

Can you see a tiny dolphin blow?

On our way back in on the afternoon trip we were also lucky enough to run into a fairly large pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins. This pod was really a treat to watch with several extremely small whales in the group which we presume were calves. These animals were making their way steadily south the whole time we watched, but did not seem disturbed by our presence and allowed us to get some excellent looks at them as they cruised effortlessly through the water.

A morning minke.

An afternoon minke.

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