Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday, July 8

We were once again fortunate enough to have plenty of whales close to home again today. This morning we saw 8 Minke whales and 3 Fin whales. Perhaps our best sighting of the day was our first whale of the day (at least that's what our crew would unanimously agree with). It was our fin-less scarred-up Minke whale we have been seeing every year for the past 3 years. While this whale may only be seen once a year we were thrilled to have this whale back in the area.
What is this you ask? A Minke whale without a dorsal fin and instead has a large white scar (above and below). This whale is swimming from right to left in these images

The scar on this whale is around where there should be a dorsal fin. This whale has definitely encountered some human interactions over its lifetime (potentially multiple instances with both fishing gear and boat propellers) based on some of the scars visible on this whale's body. Luckily this whale managed to survive these events and is once again back in our area for another season. What was even more exciting to see is that this whale looks good. Dark coloration and a plump body helps to visually see that this whale looks like many of our other "normal" looking Minke whales. In addition this whale's scar has appeared to heal especially considering the first time we saw this whale the center region of that large mass was still slightly pink in color, meaning it was much more of a fresh wound. We spent just a bit of time with this whale to make sure we documented the progression of this whale's healing process before we ventured in the opposite direction to not overstay our welcome. Our next sighting was a Fin whale surrounded by plenty of Minke whales circling around on the outskirts of this area.
Morning sighting of Fin whale #1008
We spent some time with this whale before we soon spotted another Fin whale in the distance. Since our first whale was on the move inshore we decided to go check out the other Fin whale further offshore. Once we got to this other area we watched this second Fin whale suddenly pick up speed and appear to head directly towards the other Fin whale we had just left. In a matter of moments both whales were swimming directly towards one another!
Two Fin whales at the surface appearing to be on a collision course towards each other! That is a lot of whale tonnage coming very close in contact with each other!
We very rarely see any believed to be "aggressive" behavior from any type of whale (same or multiple species) at the surface. While we don't actually know what may happen below the waterline when we see multiple whales in the same general area they all tend to maneuver pretty easily around each other. Not these two whales though. In an instant one whale took a breath and a second later the second one surfaced as if it had just swam over the other whale before both of them took a major turn in direction and just as quickly travelled off in their own different directions. Who knows what these two whales had on their mind or may have even "said" to each other under the water but it was certainly an unexpected sight.
Fin whale #9709 after the close approach to the other Fin whale in the area
Before the trip was over we saw another Fin whale and a few more Minke whales to round out our morning trip.
Our third Fin whale of the day made us hold our breath in its own way as it swam dangerously close to a buoy as it went down on a dive. Luckily the whale disappeared and the buoy did not; a good sign that this whale did not get wrapped up in gear that was near where the whale was swimming

This afternoon our first sighting was less than 5 miles from home. A large Fin whale was circling around the area. We got some great looks at this whale as it was one of the same animals we had seen in the morning.
First afternoon Fin whale
We ventured further offshore and came across a Minke whale before running out of time for any further exploring. On our way home though we came across another Minke whale and ended up seeing 2 Fin whales less than 2 miles from Rye Harbor!
Fin whale spout just off the coast of NH!
While one of these whales was the same animal we had started our trip with it had moved over the course of a few hours and reminds us how easily these animals can make their way through our area. What a crazy sight to see whales literally so close to home and end our trip with today!

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