Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday, May 30

Our whale watching experience today included a type of whale we have yet to spend time with so far this season. Today we got the chance to watch three of the second largest animals on Earth! We checked out a pair of Fin whales and even a single Fin whale as it moved through the area. What a nice find to see these massive creatures again for another season. One of the whales in our pair is #0720, a Fin whale first seen around Jeffreys Ledge in 2007.
Fin whale #0720
We are still in the process of figuring out the other whale in the pair but, we were able to positively identify the third Fin whale in the area.
Currently unidentified Fin whale with #0720
Fin whale #9709 is back, a whale we have seen in the area often over the past years, and a whale first seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 1997. So nice to see some familiar fins!
Fin whale #9709

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday, May 24

Tether the Humpback whale continues to spend time in the area and today she was leaving quite the trail behind her. Many a time we saw a brown cloud form at the surface (whale poop!) as Tether moved through the water. A great sign that this adult female has been doing some feeding recently.
Tether swimming alongside us

Tether raising her tail above the water
On our ride home we were also fortunate enough to check out a new visitor to the area this season. Another Humpback whale was in our midst thanks to our very dedicated passengers who spotted this whale during our travels home. Veteran, an adult female, seemed like quite the fitting whale to wrap up this Memorial Day weekend of whale watching.
We will be back out searching for whales next Saturday and Sunday so until then have a great week!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23

Today's trip included two adult female Humpback whales. We first got a chance to spend time with a whale we have not seen around Jeffreys Ledge since 2010! Welcome back to the area Equation. This whale was alternating between circling and a little bit of traveling making her movements a bit tricky to keep up with.
The "big wing" of this Humpback whale is visible underneath the ocean surface (the green sheen is actually this whale's large flipper)!
Nonetheless, our hearty passengers toughed out the spurts of spray and some wave action to get some nice looks at this whale. We also got a chance to see Tether, a whale we saw just last weekend. What a nice sight to know she is still in the area.
Tether (above and below)
On a side note, for anyone interested in all kinds of marine life we also have been having some fun in the harbor watching a plethora of Hydrozoans squirming around. In slightly simpler form, Hydrozoans are invertebrate animals that can be found in both fresh and salt water habitats. The ones we have been seeing most frequently include animals known as the white-cross medusa and the clapper medusa. We are not quite sure why we are seeing them in such large numbers but if you find yourself at the harbor take a peak down into the water and see if you too can see them all around.
White-cross medusas we captured in our bucket
Clapper medusa. As always, we set all our invertebrates free (back into the harbor) after we checked them out this afternoon!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday, May 17

We once again did quite a bit of searching before we came across whales today but we certainly were not anticipating all that we saw. We had a GRAND SLAM of sightings with 4 different species of whales. We started with a couple elusive Minke whales and after moving through the fog we eventually spotted some more life. The best part was there were many more whales in the area than what we originally realized. We were surrounded by Sei whales!
Sei whale dorsal fin
We can go entire seasons without seeing a single Sei whale so to have 17 of them around was quite the sight. And they were all feeding! These whales were skim feeding by opening their mouths, stretching them wide out, in order to trap as much food as possible in their enormous mouths.
Snout of a skim feeding Sei whale
Pink lower jaw of a Sei whale as it swims on its side
Sei whales are the fastest baleen whales in the ocean so when these whales are on the move they can be very tricky to keep up with. But not today. They were being extremely mellow as they were most likely chowing down on tiny animal plankton seen below.
Animal plankton called Copepods
What a sight as we watched whales moving back and forth crossing paths constantly in such beautiful ocean conditions.
Sleek head of a Sei whale

Wide, wide, WIDE open mouth of a Sei whale on its side with its lower jaw extended outward to help scoop up as much food as possible
Those dark marks on the surface are 3 skim feeding Sei whales
We were far from home and knew it was time to go but the whales apparently weren't done. On our way home we found a pod of 15 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Wow, what a treat!
Jumping Atlantic white-sided dolphin
But there was apparently one more type of whale to be found. As we continued on home we came across a Humpback whale named Tether.
You know when the crew is elated with the day it was a good day and today was a good day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 whale watching season!

If you know how much we love whales you know we have been itching to get back out on the water and check out the area. Well today was finally that day as we started the 2015 season! We were ready as first-timers and familiar faces were all equally as excited to see what the day would bring. Whales we found but, boy oh boy were they further away than what we were anticipating. That being said we always know we are lucky to experience any sort of whale activity any day. We started the season with something other than whales (yep its true, we like to check out all kinds of marine life) as we found 3 Basking sharks in our travels toward the whales.
Basking shark (dorsal fin is on the right and its tail is on the left)
Soon enough we were on the move to watch whales that certainly were providing their own entertainment. Humpback whales were actively feeding in small groups in every direction. There were at least 15 Humpback whales all around the boat. We started with a trio creating bubble nets and doing some open mouth feeding.
Humpback whales bubble netting

A mother and her calf passed on by and other single whales were scooting around. In addition to that, whales could be seen out on the horizon being equally as active. Also in the mix were a few Minke whales and even a small group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins associated with our trio of Humpback whales. So much to look at and so much to enjoy.
Birds and whales making all necessary efforts to grab some food!
We captured a handful of whale identities which included: Daffodil, Geometry, Lightning and her 2015 calf, 747 and Blackbird.
747 the Humpback whale
Lightning and her calf
We are whale watching just weekends for the time being but feel free to check out our website Granite State Whale Watch for the full 2015 season schedule to come experience the lure of wildlife with us!
You can see this Humpback whale's baleen plates hanging down from its upper jawline