Saturday, July 12, 2014

Satruday, July 12

Incredible day today!!! Not only were the whales excellent on both trips, but also completely unexpected. Yesterday afternoon we traveled 39 miles for whales (that’s really far for us). Today we were back on our normal stomping grounds of Jeffreys Ledge with 15-20 humpback whales plus several minke whales on our way there. What a difference a day makes! We talked to the fishermen who were working this area yesterday, and just 24 hours ago, no whales were there. Literally, overnight, these whales showed up! Incredible! And also humbling as we still can’t predict where whales will be on any given day. But then again, that keeps our jobs interesting and exciting!

This morning were heading out and saw a number of minke whales.  Although we love minkes, we had a hot report of some other whales offshore, and we wanted to be sure that we had time to get out there, so, against our typical judgment, we passed by these cute animals and pressed on. Once at the Ledge, we first saw a humpback whale who wasn’t picking up its tail, and was staying down a while so when we saw another spout nearby, we headed in that direction. This second humpback whale was named Putter.
 As we watched Putter, we saw several more spouts all around!  We watched a pair of humpbacks for a bit. These two weren’t fluking to start but we finally got some really brief looks at their tails. And I am really excited to report that I just identified one of these whales as Alpine, who I actually named! I’ve never actually seen Alpine before today!!
Alpine- named for the alpine skier just barely visible in this photo

Before we knew it, a trio showed up! So far we have identified 2 of the 3 as Ivee, a 30+ year old female, and Tunguska, a 17 year old.

We saw more spouts so continued and to find 2 more humpbacks, Daffodil and Grackle, plus a whale we have yet to ID.

As we were heading home, we spotted yet another humpback whale who was tossing its flukes out of the water repeatedly! This was Shards, a whale who has been around for 25 years!

Certainly a lot of great activity on the Ledge for our morning trip, but we know things change minute by minute out there and weren’t sure if the whales would stick around for our afternoon trip.

As luck would have it, we found the concentration of humpback whales again this afternoon, after passing by a fin whale and some minkes on the way out. But this time we found different individuals! The first humpback that we got a good look at was Duo, and she was definitely showing off! She was tail-lobbing and tail-breaching over and over…60 times according to our intern’s excellent data collection!


As some other boats came over to check out the action, we slid off to see some of the other whales nearby. We found a trio, and then a group of 4 humpbacks!! The larger group was quite active, rolling at the surface and moving around quickly. Two of these whales were ID’ed as Lariat and Ampersand.   

We also saw Mirror and Tilt in the distance!  Humpback whales are endangered, so it was really a treat to be able to see so many of them all in one small area!!

What an incredible day!!   The birding was great too with lots of shearwaters (Corys, Great, Sooty) and Wilson's storm petrels!  What will tomorrow bring??  If only we knew….

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