Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday, September 29

Our day started off with some dense fog and ended with storm preparations for the upcoming weather event, but in between, we had an incredible day of whale watching!

We headed back to the area where we found whales yesterday and just as we slowed down, two humpback whales appeared out of the fog! Sometimes we just get lucky!  To make it even better, the whales were Owl with her calf.  Owl is one of our favorites and is even featured in our brochure!

Owl and her calf in the fog
These two would surface close by, and then they split up for a bit before getting back together.At one point, Owl turned toward the boat and dove right below us.
Owl turning towards us!


"Fish Finder" showing Owl diving below the boat!
Also in the same area was the humpback named Hornbill. Hornbill surprised us by showing up out of no where and sticking around our small area of visibility while Owl and her calf moved away into the fog.

As we made our way out past the tuna boats, we found Owl and her calf again.  As we searched around, we found a spot with better visibility and even a whale! This was Geometry! At first he slapped his flipper once, and then dove. We waited and waited but didn't see him again.

Then on our way home, we came upon a big ocean sunfish! We have been seeing many sunfish this season which has been a real treat for us as well as our guests!

Ocean Sunfish
Sea bird sightings were also pretty good with many northern gannets, a few northern fulmars and several shearwaters (Cory's and great).  With the forecasted wind and rain, it looks like we will be tied to the dock for at least a few days but we are looking forward to what October will bring!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, September 28

Another wonderful autumn day!  Today we saw 11 humpback whales (8 up close), 2 minke whales, over 100 Atlantic white sided dolphins and an ocean sunfish!  Our humpbacks included 3 mother and calf pairs (Moms were Spoon, Owl and Shuffleboard) as well as Hornbill, and then Partition who was hanging out with Shuffleboard and her calf.  The dolphins were quite amazing as they were feeding with 100’s of seabirds including northern gannets, Cory’s shearwaters, great shearwaters and gulls.

Spoon' calf was rolling around and playing with seaweed!
Spoon's calf

Owl and her calf spent a bunch of time resting at the surface.
Owl and her calf

The pod of dolphins included lots of calves!
Atlantic white sided dolphin calf

Hornbill was blowing bubble clouds in the same area where the trio of whales was. Must have been some awesome food!

Hornbill on the outskirts

Minke whale
The trio of humpbacks included Shuffleboard and her calf along with Partition who was sporting some recent injuries, possibly from an entanglement.
humpback diving


Shuffleboard and her calf
This interesting-looking fish rounded out the trip!
Ocean sunfish

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday, September 27

What a difference a day makes! We attempted to search for whales yesterday but were sent home early by steep waves and lots of wind.  Today, just a low roll was leftover and the whales were still around the same areas where we had them earlier in the week!  We had some very quick looks at harbor porpoises and a harbor seal on our trip out. Then we spotted some blows.  Humpback whales Shuffleboard and her calf were here again, and the calf was pretty playful as Shuffleboard took longer dives. The calf would roll at the surface, lifting its flipper up, and then bring its head up pretty high out of the water to get a good look around. At one point, the calf came right over to the boat and we could see the whole whale underwater, right next to us! Amazing.
Shuffleboard's calf- see the eye??

We continued on to some more blows nearby. These were from a trio of humpbacks, Owl, her calf, and Geometry. The adults would dive and Owl’s calf would lounge at the surface, often playing with seaweed. The behavior is technically known as “kelping”. It was really fun to watch this little whale make tight turns to target the seaweed! 
Owl and her calf

Owl's calf playing with seaweed



An ocean sunfish was in the area as well but it dove soon after we attempted to get some views of it. The sunfish have been quite prevalent this summer.

Next we headed towards the fleet of tuna boats where we had spotted a blow earlier. Although we never found this lone whale, we did re-sight Shuffleboard and her calf along with a minke whale and harbor seal before it was time to head for home.   The day was really such a welcomed change from yesterday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday, September 23

Happy first day of fall!  Today was a wonderful start to the official fall season with 7 humpback whales, 3 minke whales, and ocean sunfish and several seals! 

A humpback whale trio started the trip: Spoon, her calf, and Canine were resting at the surface, and then Canine woke up a bit, with a few spy-hops, tail lobs and flicks. The calf rolled around at the surface a bit but mother Spoon and her calf were pretty sleepy…typical Spoon style!

As we continued on, we passed by a minke whale, a harbor seal and a gray seal!  Then we spotted another pair of blows- 2 more humpback whales! These were Tornado and Sigma. This pair has been together for about a week now. Sigma was busy slapping its flipper on the surface, creating a loud bang, while Tornado did a little slapping herself but not nearly as much as Sigma.

Soon we found another pair of humpback whales: Geometry and Chromosome. We’ve seen Geometry quite a bit this season but Chromosome hasn’t been around since June!  Geometry was chin-breaching when we first spotted him, and then when Chromosome joined, the two began to slowly swim together just below the surface.

As we were leaving, we spotted 2 minke whales and an ocean sunfish! We got some great looks at the sunfish in particular and then decided it was really time to head home. 

But then we saw some big splashes not too far away! A humpback whale was breaching! Sometimes a whale will only breach once and then it’s done so we didn’t rush over to it. But this whale was breaching consistently so we altered course to check it out. It was Spoon’s calf causing the ruckus! Spoon was nearby but pretty mellow, while the calf would flipper-slap, dive and then breach out of the water. Amazing!!

We passed by another harbor seal on the way home. What a truly awesome trip!  I wish every trip could be this incredible!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday, September 20

What a day!! Honestly, we were a bit concerned about the wind and seas as we were leaving the dock this morning. Often, when the wind persists, it will build up the seas, making for an unpleasant ride. Although we took a little spray at the beginning of our whale watching, the wind turned off (yes, that is my official term) and the seas calmed right down, making for a lovely trip.

Our first stop was on a humpback whale mother with her calf. I was excited to see this was Spoon, my all-time favorite whale!  When I was a kid, I adopted Spoon through another organization, and you can imagine my exhilaration when I saw her for the first time, about 20 years ago! Spoon and her new calf are always a welcomed sighting!


We soon spotted a second pair of humpback whales- Shuffleboard and her calf!  After they dove, we looked at our fish finder, and saw two large blobs under the boat. Just as I was telling everyone about the whales being under us, the calf surfaced right next to us followed by the mom!! Amazing!  As we watched this pair, we saw even more spouts in the distance so we continued on.

Shuffleboard's calf


A minke whale popped up, and then 2 separate male humpbacks, Hornbill and Mogul.  Hornbill was on the move, but Mogul stuck around.  He even decided to show us “evidence of feeding” by leaving a large brown cloud behind him!  Lovely, Mogul!  While watching Mogul, Captain Pete spotted a lone Atlantic white sided dolphin swimming by. Usually, dolphins are found swimming in pods but sometimes the males will wander off on their own.

Then we saw another pair of whales coming towards us! These were 2 adults hanging out together. We later identified them as Tornado and Sigma, when they gave us some closer looks as we watched Owl and her calf (3rd calf of the day!!). Then Mogul decided he didn’t want to be left out so he came by as well and before we knew it, we had 5 humpbacks and a couple of minke whales all together!  Owl and her calf gave us an incredible sighting as they both dove in unison, one fluke right behind the other! So special!
Owl and calf
 We saw other blows in the area but unfortunately were out of time and had to head back to Rye Harbor. Such a great day of fall whale watching!