Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday, August 31

Today we were surrounded by 5 Fin whales and 2 Minke whales. We found ourselves in an area where all of these whales were circling around. The whales were spending a bit of time below the waterline but with so many remaining in the general area we could check out these massive marine mammals when they surfaced for some breaths of air.
Fin whale head and jawline
Fin whale dorsal fin
Our 2 Minke whales of the day moved past us as we slowly maneuvered around all the whale activity.
Bolshoi the Fin whale with the state of Maine in the background
This Fin whale was first spotted by Blue Ocean Society researchers in 2007!
To wrap up an already great day we even saw an Ocean sunfish just miles from the harbor as we headed in from our trip!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday, August 30

Our day spent out on the ocean today provided a few surprises, starting with our first sighting! A pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were moving through our area. These toothed-whales were on the move creating plenty of white water as they surfaced for breaths of air.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins on the move (above and below)

Typically, Atlantic white-sided dolphins are seen approximately 25% of the time we whale watch. These whales were all but absent at the start of the season and while they have been appearing more often recently, there is never a guarantee they will be around each day. It was a special treat to start the day.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
We ended up spending the rest of the day with baleen whales including seeing 4 Minke whales and 5 Fin whales. We even passed by a grey seal and a couple harbor seals during the trip. We attempted to check out our first pair of Fin whales but these whales were cruising through the area, at a good clip, and not taking many breaths!
One of the two Fin whales we attempted to get looks at
It didn't take long to decide it was time to move on and head over to a different pair of Fin whales that were nearby. These whales were not taking a large number of breaths but they were definitely not moving through the water as swiftly as our first pair. Upon our first glances of this pair we were thrilled to see it was a mother and her calf!
Fin whale mother and her calf
This is the first sighting of a mother/calf pair of Fin whales for us this season. So fantastic! We got some great looks at this pair slowly moving around.
Fin whale mother's dorsal fin
Fin whale pair at the surface
Before the day was done we checked out one other Fin whale we found during our travels.
Final Fin whale of the day
Wonder what the ocean has is store for us tomorrow? Check back tomorrow evening to find out!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

 Mother Nature treated us to a breezy day today which made for a bit of a wet ride, but the whales were still out there going about their business.  We started  our trip with a Fin whale who was taking dives lasting close to 10 minutes.  This whale, like yesterday's Fin whale, was also not arching it's back before taking a longer dive.  While we were waiting for this whale to resurface, we got a quick look at a Minke whale in amongst the waves.  Our next stop was to look at a pod of about 50 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins.  These animals were milling about, surfing in the waves a bit and also following another Fin whale for a while.  It is always so fun to have the opportunity to see a pod of these dolphins!  And the pod we saw today had at least 6 mother and calf pairs traveling along with them!  We were fortunate to find four more Fin whales after leaving the dolphins.  Some of the whales came up very close by the boat and impressed us with their immense size and graceful movements.  Overall, it was another beautiful day out on the ocean!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday, August 28

Today we were treated to plenty of sleek moving whales. This morning we saw 14 Minke whales and 6 Fin whales. This afternoon the wind increased, the waves formed and we checked out 2 Fin whales and even a couple quick looks at 2 Minke whales on the move. This morning we were surrounded by calm seas helping to provide a backdrop where any disturbance at the surface could be evidence of marine life being the cause of that disturbance. We began in an area where multiple Minke whales were around.
First whale of the day, a Minke whale
While moving around the area with the Minke whales a Fin whale appeared. Then another and another!
Fin whale spout
Some of our whales were behaving better than others so we spent time enjoying any whale that would appear and disappear all around us.
Bolshoi the Fin whale
Eventually we continued on, passed by more Minke whales, and then found ourselves in another area where 3 Fin whales were on the move.
Minke whale
Another Minke whale, another uniquely-shaped dorsal fin!
Minke whale in the foreground while a Fin whale spout is seen in the distance
Fin whale surfacing
It was a nice way to wrap up the trip especially when we saw a Blue shark briefly at the surface.

This afternoon we headed out to where we had luck with whales this morning. We started with a Minke whale but soon found ourselves waiting for another whale to surface close by. A Fin whale was moving in towards us. We ended up spending time with this whale steadily traveling along.
Fin whale at the surface
Fin whale dorsal fin
We got some fantastic looks at this whale even when it began to hold its breath for longer periods of time. Eventually we pressed on, passed another Minke whale and ended the day getting a few looks at a sneaky Fin whale. This whale was not arching its back. Instead, it would suddenly just disappear after getting a breath of air.
Fin whale moving away from us
Always amazing how quickly one of the second largest mammals on Earth can elude us in their watery world.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 27

Variety was the name of the game today!!  On both trips we spotted fin whales, minke whales, Atlantic white sided dolphins, harbor porpoises, harbor seals and a gray seal!  The bird life included Northern Gannets, Great Shearwaters and even some phalaropes! The seas were pretty smooth allowing us to see clearly into the water to get amazing looks at the curious dolphins, and could even see the minke “mittens”  (white flipper patches) as the minkes cruised by!  It’s so great to see the area so full of life!
minke whale (see the white "mitten"?)
minke whale
fin whale
fin whale
gray seal

dolphin mom and calf
afternoon fin whale
afternoon minke whale

afternoon harbor seal

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, August 26

This morning started off like most other mornings of whale watching.  We dropped our lines and headed East towards Jeffreys Ledge in search of whales.  We cruised past the Isles of Shoals and soon found our first of nearly a dozen minke whales!  

 As we were hanging out with the minkes, we got a call on the radio from one of our seasoned fisherman friends informing us of some whales he saw to our south.  Captain Dan said that 2 of the 3 whales were of a different color than the ones he’s used to seeing. They were sort of a blue-gray, and not the dark gray or black he usually sees.  Hmmm, we thought. His description sounded like they could be blue whales, the largest animal ever to live on Earth! But could it be?   Blue whales are really rare in our area. In the Atlantic, they are usually sighted off the St. Lawrence in Canada. We might see a blue whale every 5-10 years, so it was possible, but rare.  We made our way down to that location, along with another curious whale watching boat.  They spotted some blows, but the whale was being elusive, coming up for just one breath and then spending 12 minutes underwater, and resurfacing a half mile away. They were only seeing the blows so they weren’t sure what species of whale it was. We arrived and after a lot of patience, saw the whale. It was indeed a blue whale. BUT….not just one, but two blue whales!! Amazingly awesome!!  In my 20+ years of watching whales around here, I’ve only seen blue whales 3 times before. And I’ve never seen 2 together! I could go on and on about how excited our entire crew was, but you get the picture.   And speaking of pictures, we did get lots of great images of these 2 whales, so we can tell them apart by their tiny dorsal fins and unique mottling patterns. We’ll be sending these photos off to researchers in Canada who study blues and see if they recognize our whales. I’ll be sure to update when we hear back!!

Blue whales under the boat!!
So on the ride in, we weren’t quite done watching whales, and found a fin whale and even an ocean sunfish! Fantastic morning!
Ocean sunfish

This afternoon was also pretty great. We passed by several pods of harbor porpoises and harbor seals before finding  a big pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. We had ideal conditions for watching these 7-9 foot toothed whales as they swam right alongside our boat! The dolphins have been rare for most of the season but lately we have been seeing them more regularly.  

A bit further, we found an area where 3 fin whales, 2 minke whales and another small pod of dolphins were hanging out! At one point, the dolphins were hanging out with one of the fin whales! Minke whales were zipping by as well!  Fantastic number of species in a small area.

Fin whale
We continued on, searching some areas we hadn’t been to recently, and found a small blue shark and another fin whale on our way home.

Days like today prove that we never know what we’ll find out there from day to day or even from trip to trip!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25

We only had a morning trip today due to the building seas we felt thanks to the increasing winds Mother Nature provided us during the morning hours. As we ventured offshore we headed out to familiar spots where whales have been seen. Guess what our eagle-eyed captain found as we were searching? A pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins! A pod of 45-50 of these toothed-whales were traveling through the area.
Dolphins charging through the wavy ocean
Atlantic white-sided dolphin face
These whales were swimming right into the wind and the waves. Watching these incredibly maneuverable mammals move through the water is always impressive to see as these whales swam on either side of the boat.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Eventually we pressed on to do some more searching. A Minke whale was seen, but unfortunately not by most, for a brief moment in time. We continued to search and ended up near Boon Island. We checked out the colonies of grey and harbor seals before heading for home.
Boon Island lighthouse
Grey seal colony
Close-up of a handful of grey seals

Harbor seals on the rocks and in the water

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24

This morning we started whale watching in an area where we had 2 Minke whales darting around. We spent some time watching these whales before moving on to search for more marine mammals.
Minke whale
Soon we saw a spout, which turn into two, then three! We moved into the area only to realize the whales continued to surface. There were 5 Humpback whales nearby! It didn't take long for these whales to separate from each other as they ventured off in their own particular directions. We checked out Owl and got a quick glimpse of Daffodil before spending some time with Pinball and her calf.
Daffodil diving in towards us
Pinball's calf was a little skirmish at the surface as this whale tail breached and flipper slapped from time to time.
Pinball's calf rolling on its side bringing its flipper above the waterline

Pinball and her calf
We watched this mother/calf pair move through the area before ending the trip with another pair of Humpback whales. Two of the five whales we had seen earlier swimming around by themselves had become associated with one another. Daffodil and a newcomer to the area this season, Jabiru, were swimming alongside one another. What a great end to a great morning.

This afternoon we came across Jabiru swimming around alone. This whale was steadily on the move.
We checked out this whale for a bit before we moved on to Owl not to far from our current location. With some nice looks at these whales we got the opportunity to end the day with Pinball and her calf.
In just a few short hours this pair of whales had moved 8 miles from their last known location. Whales can, and do, constantly move around as they look for large patches of guess what? Moving schooling fish! Fish move, whales move; the process is never-ending! Pinball and her calf were slowly meandering around and while they spent time at the surface we even enjoyed watching these whales taking some quick naps!
Pinball and her calf resting at the surface this afternoon
A few times the calf even rolled on its side, and onto mom's head for a moment in time! Crazy kids ;)