Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday, June 30

After three days of remaining on land due to plenty of wind coming and going across the area we finally made our way offshore today. On both of our trips today we saw multiple Minke whales and a Fin whale. This morning we started whale watching with multiple Minke whales. One of these whales was circling around while the other was charging through the swells creating plenty of whitewater!
First whale of the day, a Minke whale
Minke whale creating quite the disturbance as it swims through the water
We also got a chance to spend time with Fin whale #0331 a whale first sighted by Blue Ocean Society researchers in 2003 and a whale first documented in the Gulf of Maine in 1982!
Fin whale #0331
Our morning wrapped up with 4 other Minke whales and even a Basking shark.
Subsurface Basking shark near the boat
This afternoon we decided to do some exploring in other areas. We once again got a chance to check out Minke whales, 4 in total, during our trip.
Afternoon Minke whale
We were also privy to a very well-behaved Fin whale. While this whale was consistently traveling, it was only remaining below the surface for five minutes at a time and swimming close to the boat. Awesome looks at one of the second-largest mammals on Earth!
Fin whale spout
Fin whale body

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday, June 26

Over the past few days we have been traveling far offshore to see most of the whale activity we have been sharing recently. So it was a very pleasant surprise today when we came across whale activity much closer to home. This morning we saw 3 Minke whales on our way offshore. By the end of the trip we had tallied 12 Humpback whales! Our first pair of whales for the day was a fantastic surprise when we quickly realized a VERY familiar tail had returned to the Gulf of Maine. Pinball was back AND with a calf! What a surprise to find this pair to start the day.
Do you see the small dorsal fin on the left side of this whale's tail? That's Pinball's 2016 calf. What a great pair to come across today!
We then spent time with another mother, Clamp and calf. More Humpback whales appeared and disappeared as we ventured to a whale being active out in the distance. Weren't we lucky when this whale never ceased that activity. We saw flipper slapping, the whale roll over on its back, lobtailing, and a total of 19 breaches! What an incredible experience to all on board.
Humpback whale upside down showcasing it's white flippers high in the air
Breaching Humpback whale
Head breach
Oh look, another breach!
To round out the trip we spent time with a trio of Humpback whales on the move. We are still in the process of attempting to get IDs of all of our whales from the day but two of the whales in this group of three were Glo-stick and Neves.

This afternoon we headed back out to the same area. In total, we saw 9 Humpback whales. We once again started with Pinball and calf but soon left spread out knowing more whales had been in the area during the morning hours.
Pinball and her calf at the surface
It did not take long to find some more whales and familiar ones at that. After passing a few single whales at the surface we moved towards a trio of whales including Clamp and calf. Another whale was also on the move with this pair. Once again we are still in the works of getting all the whales IDed so still working on this third whale of the group. Before leaving we even got a brief glimpse of Sabot the Humpback whale that suddenly appeared in all the mix of our whales.
Sabot the Humpback whale
On our travels home our captain got eyes on a Basking shark close by giving us a chance to check out this large fish before continuing back to Rye Harbor.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday, June 25

This morning, with glassy calm seas, we headed out to where we left the whales yesterday afternoon, hoping that they’d still be in the area. Whales do move around quite a bit so we can never be sure where they will go overnight. Well, we were lucky once again and found 8 humpback whales in the immediate area, and several more a bit further out. We watched as a pair of whales slowly swam along the boat at the surface, not bothering to dive.  Then we watched a humpback named Buzzard for a bit before continuing on to look for any other whales in the area.

We found another pair, identified as Raccoon and Fleck, and then we passed by Pasta on our way in. Pasta was a first for me!  We also passed by a big fin whale and spotted several minke whales throughout the trip.



This afternoon, the wind picked up a bit, but the further offshore we got, the less it blew! We ended up back in the same area as the morning trip, but saw all different humpback whales! It’s a bit of a ride to get out there, but it is worth the trek! Whales were in all directions, and they were active! We could see breaching and flipper slapping in the distance, but that’s not it!  One of our whales breached three times close to the boat! 

We found a mother whale with her new calf who was apparently nursing, several other pairs of whales and even a trio of whales! 
Mother and calf
 One of these whales, Plateau, did a quick tail breach, too! So many whales!  

 However, I think the best sighting of the day was a whale that we saw on our ride home. From a distance, we could see it breaching. The closer we got, the more breaches it did. Then it stopped to tail-lob over and over. But this wasn’t just any humpback whale. This was Satula, one of Blue Ocean Society’s adoptable whales!! We never saw Satula last year so it was a happy relief to have him back in the neighborhood, and being so active!  

The only bad part was that we were out of time and couldn’t stop and spend much time with him. Hopefully we’ll see Satula again soon!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday, June 24

This morning, we headed out to Jeffreys Ledge but got sidetracked by a couple of whales well inside of the Ledge. A minke and a fin whale were seen but a bit on the busy side for our likings. We continued on to the Ledge. Soon we found 2 pairs of humpback whales. One of the whales, Flounder,  breached several times! He was with a whale named Ampersand who was much more calm.  The other pair included Minuit and a yet-to-be identified whale.  Another minke and fin whale were seen in this same area!  Continuing on, we came upon another humpback whale tail-lob feeding. Got some great views of her slapping her tail on the surface before blowing a ring of bubbles around a school of fish!  Heading home, we passed by another pair of humpbacks!

This afternoon, we passed by a fin whale and a minke whale, something we very rarely do.  We wanted to save some time to get out to where we had seen whales on the morning trip. After a  bit of a ride, we found a trio of humpbacks. This was a mother and her calf, escorted by another adult. The escort tail breached repeatedly while the mom and calf swam causally along. 

Looking out to the east a bit further, we could see multiple blows so we ventured on. Our gamble paid off! Before we knew it, we were surrounded by over 20 active humpback whales! We witnessed all sorts of feeding behaviors as these whales foraged in pairs, groups and singly.  So many whales, so little time! Before we knew it, we had to head back to port, although most of us would have much preferred to stay with the whales a while longer.  Days like today are a reminder as to why we all love whales so much. We just never know what to expect from day to day, or even trip to trip!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday, June 23

We are well aware of bad weather days on the ocean so when everything falls into place we cannot be more excited to enjoy the day when you have minimal wind, calm seas and hopes of seeing whale activity! Today was one of those days. This morning the flat-calm ocean meant spotting any activity was that much more noticeable since any disturbance at the surface was usually cause by some sort of marine life. On our travels offshore we checked out one of the 2 Basking sharks seen and passed by 3 Minkes whales before making our way towards 12 Humpback whales in total.
Morning Basking shark
Most of our Humpback whales were in groups of 2 or 3, actively feeding but, we also experienced whale sleeping, breaching, lob-tailing and flipper slapping to name a few.
Open-mouth feeding
Pair of Humpback whales surface in such calm ocean conditions
Humpback whale swimming past the front of the boat
This afternoon we ventured offshore once again. In total we saw 9 Humpback whales, passed by 2 Minke whales and checked out a Basking shark on our ride home. Once again most of the Humpback whales we saw were doing some feeding behaviors, traveling in pairs and even creating some extremely 'fragrant' breath.
Humpback whale tail
We saw flipper slapping from whales on both of our trips today!
Afternoon dorsal fin of our Basking shark
The whales we recently have been fortunate enough to see have continued to shift around the area and are moving further and further offshore. Who knows what we might encounter tomorrow but there is only one way to find out... Come join us and help search for such incredible wildlife all summer long!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday, June 22

So much activity today! Whales were plentiful and birds were everywhere; Jeffreys Ledge was alive with life! We saw so many actively feeding Humpback whales on both trips today so minus the showers, downpours and quick instances of hail in between our trips today(!), it was ultimately a pretty spectacular day. 
Open-mouth feeding of a group of Humpback whales
All those small dots you see are petrels taking advantage of the food around!
Thanks to our hard-working Blue Ocean Society intern Lauren who recorded ALL marine life today our morning count included 3 Harbor seals, 3 Basking sharks, 5 Minke whales, 30 Humpback whales, 1 Fin whale and 1 Sei whale.
Morning Minke whale

These 3 Humpback whales were resting when we found them
Plenty of bird life today!
This afternoon included 27 Humpback whales, a distant look at a Fin whale and 2 Minke whales.
Pair of Humpback whales filtering out salt water after making a bubble net
Close pass by a Humpback whale
One of the MANY bubble nets seen created by the Humpback whales in the area all day today
Among all the whales moving around during both of our trips today we have identified many of our Humpback whales (with still plenty more to look at!): Thread, Parens, Jenga, Ghost, Hockey, Palette and her calf, Mudskipper and her calf, Canopy, Scrimshaw, Literal, Centipede, Egret, Cygnus, Treasure, Terrace, Face-off, Agent, Gannet and Longboard.
Who knows what we may come across in the future but I hope you enjoy a few of the photos taken during the day today!
Tail breach
Multiple Humpback whales on the move together

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday, June 21

The winds finally slacked off enough allowing for us to go searching for whale life again this afternoon. Our travels took us past multiple Minke whales, 4 in total, getting looks at a few and seeing others out in the distance.
Minke whale
We also were fortunate enough to spend time with Fin whale #9709.
Fin whale #9709 in the process of going on a dive
This whale was first sighted by our research affiliates the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation in 1997! This whale has been seen a handful of times already this season so it is great knowing this whale is still sticking around our small portion of the Gulf of Maine.
Fin whale surfacing for a breath of air while swimming in towards us

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday, June 19

Happy Father's Day to all of you special folks out there! This morning we headed out to where we had luck with whales yesterday. After some searching we spotted a spout out on the horizon. Turns out we had 2 whales associated with each other! Two large Fin whale were traveling along together.
Fin whale spout
Fin whale pair at the surface
One of the whales was our familiar fin of Dingle! These whales were steadily moving through the area until they eventually stopped and circled around.

Second Fin whale seen swimming alongside Dingle
At one point we watched these whales move down the length of the boat, getting some phenomenal looks! This afternoon we attempted to press offshore to where we had luck this morning. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. The winds continued to stay strong and the ocean began to show the effects. We ended up up heading home early. Now we will wait for the ocean to subside and hopefully get back out soon to look for marine life!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 8:30 trip

After a bit of searching this morning, we found a couple of elusive minke whales. Although we got a few good looks in spite of the less than ideal sea conditions, we continued on and did a lot more searching and finally came up with a fin whale. But this was no ordinary fin whale. This was #0631, a fin whale first identified by Blue Ocean Society researchers in 2006. The following year, on July 14, 2007, #0631 was being watched by several whale watch boats. The interns were collecting detailed data on every single breath and dive the whale took as per usual. Suddenly, the whale watch boats spotted a sport fishing boat heading rapidly toward the fin whale. They tried hailing the vessel and even gesturing as it got closer and closer to #0631.  But the captain wasn’t paying attention and ran right over the back of #0631!  As passengers watched in horror, the whale took off but not before the naturalists could get photos of the injury. #0631 was seen briefly in 2008 so we knew it had survived the incident, but then he was not seen again until 2012. During this sighting he was seen entangled in some sort of rope. At that time, the only parts of the whale’s body to break the surface were the blowholes and just enough of the back to show that distinctive scar.  Sadly help was not available to untangle the whale and it was not seen again for 4 years. Today was the first time we were able to get close to this previously elusive whale and we were treated to some incredible looks and ID images! Check out this gorgeous chevron marking!! 

 I am so happy to know that this whale is ok and doing well. Ship strikes can be lethal to whales, and we really want to reach out to boaters to let them know to always be on the lookout. Entanglements are also potentially lethal, so it is quite amazing that #0631 has survived at least two devastating events.

And in case you are wondering what happened to the captain of the sport fishing boat, he was eventually fined ~$5000 for injuring an endangered species. Part of the reason he was caught and fined was due to Blue Ocean Society’s detailed data collection and photos to be able to prove to law enforcement that indeed this captain violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act as well as the Endangered Species Act.  This is just one of the reasons we work so hard to collect data and study these incredible animals.