Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday, June 30

We most certainly enjoyed a beautiful day out on the open ocean today. The lack of wind offshore made the ocean extremely calm allowing for great spotting for all kinds of marine life. This morning we saw 4 Minke whales, 2 Ocean sunfish, a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins and a few lucky folks even saw a Blue shark.
Morning Ocean sunfish not fazed in the least as it swims so close to the boat!
Our whales were definitely on the move but we were able to get some nice looks at our baleen whales and even our pod of three dolphins we found on our travels home.
Minke whale surrounded by the flat-calm ocean

Two of the three dolphins moving around at the surface
This afternoon we were back enjoying the calm ocean and once again were lucky enough to spot 2 Ocean sunfish, 3 Minke whales and Hornbill the Humpback whale.
Afternoon Ocean sunfish

One of our afternoon Minke whales
Each trip certainly provides its own surprises of marine activity as we respect and are in awe of the unpredictability of wildlife.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 29

The large swells we traveled around in this afternoon was the reminder of the storm system that passed through the area yesterday. After a big sloth of weather goes by we are always interested to know what these systems may have done for the whales. Sometimes the large patches of food that were in place prior to the impending weather can become dispersed, sometimes even larger concentrations of food show up and sometimes it is as if nothing changed. While we have no idea what these whales do when the seas are 12+ft high and winds are gusting over 45kts (the whales still have to surface to breathe so regardless, they need to spend some amount of time at the surface) we are always anxious for what we may find, or not find, out on Jeffreys Ledge. Today we were fortunate to find a few familiar whales still in the area. Amongst the 3 Minke whales we saw traveling around we also found two Humpback whales. We first watched Chromosome who was spending a good amount of time under the water.
Chromosome diving into the depths of the ocean
We were then excited to see an old friend; Hornbill! Our last sighting of this whale was June 5th so it was great to find this whale back in the area today.
Hornbill (above and below)

What a nice whale to finish up our afternoon with. We will be back out on the water tomorrow on the lookout for whales and their spouts!
Humpback whale spout

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 27

What a day on Jeffreys Ledge! This morning the seas were as calm as they could be so we decided to take advantage of the optimal conditions and go exploring the northern region of the Ledge.  After a quick stop on 4 amazing and circling basking sharks, we kept going and going and going. Eventually we spotted a minke whale, and then a second minke whale.  

Then we spotted a dark spot on the horizon that quickly disappeared.  We headed that way and found 3 humpback whales with a couple more in the area!  The best part was that 2 of the whales were Owl and her new calf! Owl is a favorite of the Granite State crew and she’s even featured in our brochure, “spy-hopping” next to the boat!  Humpback whale Owl and her calf were being followed by a male humpback named Chromosome.  We watched these 3 for a bit before it was time to head home.


Owl's calf

On our journey back to Rye Harbor, we passed by even more activity including several minke whales and a fin whale!

The breeze picked up a bit for our afternoon trip as tomorrow’s storm began its approach. We pointed the boat in the direction of where we left Owl and her calf on the morning trip. On our trek up there, we encountered a very curious fin whale calf, with its mother nearby.  This young fin whale seem really interested in the boat, and also appeared to be trying to get its mother’s attention by rolling at the surface, partially breaching and even blowing bubbles! After we reviewed our photos of the mom, who was a bit more elusive, we realize she was Comet, who was first seen in 1997. This is Comet’s second calf that we know of and it was certainly was putting on a show for us today!
Comet's calf

Comet's calf


As 2 more boats came in to see Comet and her calf, we decided to keep heading out to where we had whales on the morning trip. Our journey paid off as we re-sighted Owl and her calf! This afternoon, her calf was also being a bit curious, approaching the boat with Owl several times!  We got several close looks at them, but also got close looks at their scars, the sad reality of life in our oceans. Owl has a large scar on her back, likely from a ship strike when she was young. Her calf, only about 6 months old, already has fresh injuries which are consistent with an entanglement.  Both ship strikes and entanglements can be lethal to whales so it was refreshing to see these two appearing to be doing well.

Owl and calf
Both Comet and Owl are adoptable whales through Blue Ocean Society. For more information about whale adoptions, visit

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday, June 26

Great day with a mother fin whale and her calf! Today we saw a spout in the distance and as we got closer, we found a fin whale. I was excited to recognize this whale as #9709, a known female who is seen around Jeffreys Ledge nearly every year since we first documented her back in 1997. 

As we waited for her to come back up from a dive, we saw anther whale nearby. It took us a bit of investigating but eventually we were able to confirm that this other little whale was her calf!! Congrats to 9709 on her new little one!  This is her second calf that we’ve seen her with- the first was in 2007.   Her calf was a bit precocious, spending a lot of time away from mom, but coming back to nurse now and then.   

At one point, as we waited for the pair to resurface, I spotted a light shadow right next to the boat but about 10 feet below the surface. This was a big basking shark!! Unfortunately, the sighting was brief and the shark never came up to the surface.

 Our ride home brought us a small gang of harbor seals by the Isles of Shoals and we even spotted a minke whale between the islands and Rye Harbor! We just never know when or where we’ll find whales!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday, June 25

This morning we had perfect conditions to look for whales. The ocean was so calm that any disturbance on the surface could potentially be marine life. We ended up seeing 4 Minke whales as we got some looks at a few of them as they traveled around the area.
First Minke whale of the day
We also got a quick look at an Ocean Sunfish before we were back underway. Soon we were checking out the surrounding area and saw a spout out in the distance. Once we arrived on scene we came across a "small" Fin whale. It was a calf! But where was mom? It appeared that we had been nominated to "babysit" this calf as Mom was below the water for more than 18 minutes before she surfaced right next to the boat.
The white lower jaw is very visible as this Fin whale calf has that jawline above the waterline!
The calf on other hand had a completely different plan of attack. We sat there for the entire time watching this calf swim circles around the boat, roll over, swim upside-down, witnessing just how stunning these whales are in their natural habitat.
Calf surfacing so close to the boat!

The tail and tailstock of our Fin whale calf as this whale swims upside-down just under the water
We stayed put until the calf was done holding us hostage and moved back alongside mom. So incredible to watch the effortless movements whales have in their watery world and something we most definitely do not experience all that often. Perhaps sometimes maybe these mammals want to check us out as much as we want to see them.
Mom finally coming up from the depths of the ocean to apparently check us out too!

Fin whale mom, a whale first seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 2004
The trip ended with some very nice looks at Pinball the Humpback whale not far from our mother/calf Fin whale pair.
Humpback whale exhaling
Pinball surrounded by such calm ocean conditions
This afternoon we headed back offshore and once again found a few Minke whales. In total we saw 3 Minkes as we made our way towards Jeffreys Ledge. After a bit of searching we saw a spout and once again were excited to see it was Pinball still spending time in the area.
So great to see Pinball again!
A great day to be out in the Gulf of Maine looking at such majestic mammals.
Pinball moving around the area

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24

What a day. Each trip out to search for whales is a special experience in its own right but, sometimes even we are taken aback from the day. This morning our first sighting of the day was two extremely rare whales. A pair of highly endangered North Atlantic Right whales were inshore of Jeffreys Ledge. Many thanks our passengers for being patient during our sighting of such a special species. Soon we were off towards the Ledge to see what else the ocean had in store for us. Who knew we would then find such a familiar whale! A Humpback whale was out on the horizon and as we approached we were thrilled to see what tail came high into the sky.
Humpback whale tail
It was Pinball! Another day and another Blue Ocean Society adopt-a-whale found! Wow.
So great to see you Pinball!

This afternoon we started watching marine life only a few miles from Rye Harbor. We got a few quick looks at an Ocean Sunfish before we headed offshore to search for more life.
Ocean Sunfish swimming just below the ocean waves
In total we had 4 Minke whales, got looks at 2, including some of the best looks you probably could get from one of our sightings. One of our Minke whales continually surfaced so close to the boat.
Minke whale surfacing next to us (above and below!)

We were literally sitting there in the middle of the ocean, engines shut off, and this whale seemed to want nothing more than to stay right next to us.
Dorsal fin of our curious Minke whale
At one point this whale rolled over as a eerie light-colored glow moved down the side of the boat all the way to the stern as many people got a chance to see this whale maneuvering around us. Absolutely incredible. We eventually left our curious Minke whale and ended our day with Pinball the Humpback whale.
Hello again Pinball

Humpback whale spout
Nature certainly has a way of being amazing no matter where you happen to find yourself on any given day.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday, June 22

Having not ventured offshore yesterday due to the weather, we were interested to see where and what we may find during our travels today. We started with a few elusive Minke whales but eventually our patience paid off as we got some incredible looks at one of the 4 Minke whales we spotted this morning.
Great looks as this Minke whale spent so much time swimming alongside us
Thanks to so many eyes on the water (not just on our boat but fishing boats are also kind enough to pass along any whale sightings they have to us!) we got a chance to end our trip with Sedge the Humpback whale.

Sedge's "big wings"
Always glad to see whales spending so much time in our small part of the Gulf of Maine.

This afternoon we were off in a different direction with word of more whales spending time on Jeffreys Ledge. In total we saw 4 Fin whales and 5 Minke whales. Our first stop was a pair of Fin whales but it was a special pair; a mother and her calf!
Fin whale calf
These two whales were just circling around the area as we watched the calf move all around us as we can only guess mom was off in the depths of the ocean to do some feeding herself. To make things even more special we quickly recognized mom. It was Comet!!!! We saw this Fin whale A LOT last season and now know she was pregnant the whole time she was on Jeffreys Ledge last year. What a cool find as we got some incredible looks at these two whales.
Comet (right) and her calf just barely visible in the photo (left) as they swam so close I couldn't capture them both with my large lens!

Nothing is more adorable than a "small" calf swimming so close to its mom
Further offshore we got to check out two more Fin whales moving about.
Fin whale #3 for the afternoon
Fin whale spout
Fin whale #4
A beautiful day with some super exciting finds and even though we will not be out there tomorrow (the forecast has A LOT of wind coming!) we will eagerly wait to get back out and see where and what we may find again out on Jeffreys Ledge.