Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday September 1

Happy September everyone! Today was full of surprises and that does not include the sudden rain showers, sunshine, and even fog we dealt with throughout our trips today. This morning we started the day with 3 Minke whales. All of these whales were darting around each other and showing up in all directions around the boat.
Two of our three Minke whales this morning (above and below)
We were enjoying some nice looks at these whales when we heard news on the radio from some whale watching boats out of Gloucester that there were a couple of Humpback whales near Jeffreys Ledge. We figured we had to try our luck and see if maybe, just maybe, we too could check out some other species of whales during our morning adventure. Little did we know en route to the report we would come across some toothed-whales. And not just one type of toothed-whales, we had two species moving together in one pod! A group of ~40 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were moving around. 
Atlantic white-sided dolphins passing down the side of the boat

More white-sided dolphins
As we cruised on into the area and spent some time with these whales it wasn't until I caught a glimpse of one of the dolphins surface right tight to the boat did something look odd. The shading pattern seen on this particular whale was much different that the solid stripe from a white-sided dolphin. It was only until I looked almost straight down a few minutes later, and saw the same thing, did I realize there were 4-5 Common dolphin interspersed within this group! The few occasions we have be fortunate enough to see Common dolphins (which are not common for us in this area!) they always tend to literally stay just under the pulpit. Low and behold as our crew verified there they were, a small pod of Common dolphins, spending time within the larger pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Unfortunately I was not able to capture a picture of the Common species but for those folks who stood at the front of the boat and stared down into the water you could watch the amazing maneuverability of all the dolphins surrounding us. Soon we were back underway heading to the whale report we had heard earlier. Indeed we got the chance to spend time with 2 Humpback whales; a mother and her calf to be exact! Clipper and her calf were on Jeffreys Ledge. 
Clipper and her calf!
These two whales have been seen for the majority of the summer off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada so it was quite the surprise to see these whales here in our neck of the Gulf of Maine. It was even more of a surprise to watch the calf and its ever-changing behaviors. It went from napping, to tail breaching, to mini-lobtailing, to eventually nursing all while Clipper just idled nearby. What a special treat and a great way to wrap up our morning.
Tail breach from Clipper's calf

The aftermath of a tail breach; and all that white water was created from just a calf!

Clipper's calf flicking it's tail above the ocean

Clipper in the background as her calf continues to create white water nearby
This afternoon we were ready to head back to search for Clipper and her calf when we learned not only had some fog rolled in but different Humpback whales had been found. Two more Humpback whales were spending some time on Jeffreys Ledge. This time we got the chance to spend time with Pina and Pepper, mainly napping, nearby. 
Pina and Pepper on Jeffreys Ledge
This is the first time either of these whales have been spotted on Jeffreys Ledge this season so it was yet another wonderful surprise to witness. 
Pina's tail

Pepper's unique black and white coloration found on its tail
We also caught a quick look at a Blue shark offshore before heading back to Rye Harbor only to see a Grey seal munching on some fish just beyond the dock! 
Blue shark on the move (you can just make out the tip of this shark's tail breaking the surface on the right side of this photo)

Grey seal (above and below) eating some evening fish snacks inside Rye Harbor
Who knows what tomorrow will bring but either way we hope you all have a wonderful rest of your holiday weekend!

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