Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday, August 31

We have had some phenomenal trips recently and yet the whales still continue to keep things interesting. Who knows if any/all of this activity will continue to stick around but, we have certainly enjoyed seeing so much marine life lately. Today we had sighting after sighting of all sorts of marine creatures. In total we saw 3 Minke whales, 3 Ocean sunfish, a pair of Fin whales, 5 Humpback whales and ~150 Atlantic white-sided dolphins in an absolute feeding frenzy today. Wow. We started the day with an Ocean sunfish, passing by a few others throughout our travels, before making our way over to a pair of Humpback whales.
Ocean sunfish to start our trip with today
Our Humpback whale pair was Canopy and Ase, whales we saw for the first time this season just yesterday, and both of them still swimming side by side one another.
Canopy and Ase
We then checked out a third Humpback whale in the are that had broken away from the pair. This was a new visitor to the Jeffreys Ledge region this season. Hello Nike!
While spending time with these Humpback whales we spotted another pair of whales slightly further offshore. It was a pair of Fin whales. These whales were on the move and initially we had a tricky time attempting to stay with them. Suddenly, they changed direction, slowed down and it wasn't long until we knew exactly who these whales were. It was a mother/calf pair and to make this sighting even better it was Comet and her calf!
We last saw this pair at the end of June, literally months ago!!! What a great find to see them back in the area and see just how big the calf has gotten since the last time we saw this pair. So phenomenal and such incredible looks.
Comet (foreground) and her calf (background) swimming so close to the boat! (above and below)

Comet and calf going on a dive
The excitement however, was far from over. Along with the 3 Minke whales sighted during our trip we ended up making our way to a group of dolphins but ended up by-passing them for the time being because there was a whale jumping clear out of the water beyond our toothed whales! There was another mother/calf pair in the area but this time it was a Humpback whale pair. The calf was leaping out of the water and continued to do so as we made our way into the area. This whale was breaching, rolling over and flipper slapping while mom remained below the waterline.
Humpback whale calf breaching above the water
We saw just about every part of our calf while mom had a much different idea. This adult Humpback whale spent most of her time under the water and, at least for the moment, we do not know exactly who we were watching. Regardless, we got some incredible looks at these whales as they slowly continued moving along.
Second mother/calf pair of the day; a Humpback whale pair!
Oh, but we were still not done. We made our way back to our dolphins and ended the day watching a large group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins circle around the area while tons of birds (seagulls, shearwaters and gannets) flew around also attempting to snatch up some fish!
Plenty of birds wanted in on the feeding action along with the dolphins!
Birds were everywhere around our dolphins including Northern gannets (larger bird in this photo) and plenty of seagulls

Great shearwater
Birds above, whales below, and us gazing at all the activity. Just incredible.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin (above and below)

Multiple dolphins leaping through the ocean
As I made mention to all of our passengers today, seeing even half of what we saw today would still have been an incredible day but so many amazing looks at so many types of marine life today was truly awe-inspiring.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday, August 30

The "summer" may be winding down for many people but the whales seem to continue to be in full swing. Today was quite the phenomenal day as we not only had a grand slam of whale species on this morning's trip but we also had a grand slam of whale species on our afternoon trip too! Four different kinds of whales all in one trip is incredible on its own but, accomplishing that on both of our trips today was extremely amazing. And in reality, it is completely up to the whales we go searching for as these wild animals are spending time their natural habitat and it is truly up to them what, when, where and how many we may ever see at any point in our travels. This morning we saw 5 Minke whales, 5 Fin whales, 2 Ocean sunfish, a group of 100 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and 3 Humpback whales. We started the day with two large Fin whales associated with each other and got some great looks at two of the second largest animals on Earth!
Fin whale #1 of our pair

Fin whale #2 in our pair
Fin whales at the surface together
After that we were on to another pair of whales but this time it was a pair of Humpback whales. This is the first time we have seen these two particular whales in our area this season. Welcome to the Jeffreys Ledge region Ase and Canopy!

These whales were seen just yesterday 43 miles from us and yet here they were less than 24hr later! When whales want to move they most definitely do! We also checked out one of the 2 Ocean sunfish seen and saw 5 Minke whales scattered around the ocean before finding a very special treat.
Ocean sunfish swimming just below the waterline
A group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were not far from us! These dolphins are very much a cold water offshore type of whale and a sighting we do not get a chance to see all that often. This particular group consisted of many young dolphins; a nursery pod! What a great find as we checked out these toothed-whales.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins (above and below)

Before we turned for home we also saw our familiar "friend" Patches the Humpback whale and two more Fin whales including Dingle!
Morning sighting of Patches

Dingle in such breathtaking conditions
This afternoon we started our travels with perhaps some of the same Atlantic white-sided dolphins we spent time with this morning as we were once again checking out plenty of smaller, younger, dolphins that were dispersed in all directions around the area.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
More dolphins to watch!
We also saw a couple of Ocean sunfish, a brief look at a Fin whale moving through the area, a Minke whale and 5 Humpback whales.
Afternoon Ocean sunfish
A few of our Humpback whales were spending more time below the waterline than others but we still got some fantastic looks at so many cetaceans today.
Pair of Humpback whales at the surface together (above and below)

Some of our Humpback whales included Canopy, Ase, Geometry and Patches.

Patches during our afternoon sighting
It was a gorgeous day to be on the ocean and with so much wildlife to gaze at it was a certainly a successful day of whale watching.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday, August 29

  We had two very fun trips today with multiple species of marine life seen on each!  This morning we passed by a small group of harbor porpoises and a harbor seal before finding a small pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. These usually-friendly dolphins were quite busy though, and making it difficult for us to watch them so we continued on to find a humpback whale, several minke whales, a second humpback whale, and a fin whale. Then on our trip home, we found a big pod of dolphins that were hanging out with 2 more fin whales!! Amazing!
Humpback Highlighter
Humpback #0050
Fin whale with entanglement scars

Atlantic white sided dolphin
Fin whale "Bolshoi"

This afternoon our first sighting was of another pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins with a big gray seal nearby.  Then before we knew it, we were among 3 species of baleen whales- minkes, humpbacks and a fin whale!  The variety of life has been quite impressive lately. We even passed by a small pod of harbor porpoises on the way home. 
Atlantic white sided dolphins

Fin whale

Humpback whale Highlighter
Humpback blowholes

Humpback whale Mogul

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 28

What a gorgeous day on the ocean! The seas were surprisingly calm and the variety of marine life was pretty phenomenal. It’s not that often that the captain and naturalist get to drive around whales and talk about whales from the freedom of the fly-bridge (on top of the roof) but today was one of those days.  We started off by passing by a couple small pods of harbor porpoises.  Then we found our first of 3 different humpback whales. This one was Highlighter.
Highlighter- check out the "green" flipper!

Highlighter diving
 As we watched him surface around us, one of the tuna boats from the TV show “Wicked Tuna” passed by and the famous crew of Hard Merchandise even gave us a wave.   We just never know what we’ll see out here!  Soon we spotted other blows nearby but before heading to them, we took some time to check out an ocean sunfish. This fish was right next to the boat, and I don’t know if we should be flattered or insulted at what happened next. The huge fish decided to “relieve” itself right next to us! That was a first for me! 

While we were drifting around, we also decided to rescue a Spiderman balloon from the ocean.  Marine debris, and balloons in particular, pose a big threat to wildlife.

As we headed toward the other spouts, we found a minke whale cruising by. The spouts belonged to 2 more humpback whales, #0050 and Mogul. They were blowing bubble clouds to help capture their prey!
Minke Whale
Mogul's blowholes
Mogul- also showing us "evidence" that he's been feeding...

Some passengers pointed out a small harbor seal pup nearby and before we knew it, it disappeared. 

We started to check out another area on our way home and found a spout of a somewhat elusive fin whale. It would spout and then not be seen for a minute or 2, and then spout again. As we paid closer attention, the whale wasn’t being elusive at all but instead it was sleeping!  Sleeping whales are always partly conscious so they know what’s going on around them, but they move slowly and only take a breath every minute or 2. We got some incredible looks at this whale just below the surface and are still working to try to identify it.

And I can’t ignore the bird life- we saw northern gannets, red-necked phalaropes, great and Cory’s shearwaters and probably some other species that I missed.

Such a marvelous day on the ocean!