Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday, June 30

Today's trips were filled with baleen whales! Minkes, fins and even some humpbacks were found. This morning, we spend time with 3 pairs of fin whales! One pair in particular was feeding at the surface, a relatively rare sighing behavior! Minke whales were elusive, at least until the end of the morning trip when we saw one jumping out of the water and charging around at high speeds, creating quite the splashes!

This afternoon, we found a pair of fin whales just beyond the Isles of Shoals. These two were hunting down a school of mackerel. The whales headed right for the school of fish. Bluefin tuna were also charging this school. Then the fin whales- the 2nd largest animal on the planet- lunged right through the school, mouths wide open! Amazing!! We don't see this behavior from fin whales very often, and for this to be so close to the islands was incredible!

Then we got a report of humpback whales a bit further out, on the Ledge. We saw several whales, but they were not being all that cooperative for our purposes. They'd spout once or twice, and then dive for 10 minutes. We chased a lot of blows before finally being rewarded with a breaching humpback! This was Gondolier, a humpback who has been seen off and on for the past week.

Our trip back home saw a basking shark and another fin whale as we passed the Shoals.

Whales are keeping us on our toes. We never know what we'll see from trip to trip!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, afternoon trip

This afternoon, we found minke and fin whales right behind the Isles of Shoals.  This is really close to shore to encounter large whales but sometimes when the bait moves in, so do the whales!  Upon closer inspection of our images, one of our whales was a regular, known as 2-Scoops. The others we have yet to ID but are working on it!   We saw many more minke whales as we continued offshore. And next we found a basking shark!  Further out, we encountered the humpback known as Hornbill and got to spend some prolonged time with him as he just cruised at the surface for several minutes! On our journey home, we spotted more sharks, some harbor seals, minke whales and even a fin whale inside of the Isles of Shoals! Fantastic day!

Thursday, June 29 Morning Trip

Days when the ocean resembles that of a lake rather than the open sea is already a fantastic way to start the day. Days when the wind is minimal allows us to have our keen eyes ready for ANY disturbance on the water. A small splash or even a slight disturbance can be enough to trigger our trained eyes to investigate further. Such calm seas can allow our passengers do the same; watch and find anything that creates even the slightest amount of white water! Thanks to our excited passengers, beautiful conditions and productive marine environment we got a chance to see 9 minke whales, 6 fin whales, Hornbill the humpback whale, a brief glimpse of a basking shark and a scattering of harbor seals during our trip this morning. The seas were so calm that even a distant minke whale could be seen by so many on board. We also had great conditions for checking out some of the second largest whales on earth... fin whales!
The first of many fin whales sighted this morning
Fin whale swimming a few miles beyond the Isles of Shoals
Further offshore we found Hornbill the humpback whale busy doing circles allowing for some wonderful looks at this species of whale.
Hornbill (above and below)

On our way home we got a chance to see a few more fin whales including a trio swimming alongside each other.
The sleek bodies of 2 of the 3 fin whales seen associated together
Wednesday June 28, 2017

We started our day offshore today with a couple of very relaxed Fin whales.  The sun's angle was just right to let us see right through the surface of the water and glimpse the whole body of our first Fin whale as it swam by our boat. They are SO impressive!  After a quick look at a Minke whale, we moved into an area where two humpbacks were feeding.  We were fortunate to get to see both Hornbill and Gondolier.  A harbor seal pup came over to check us out while we were waiting for one of the whales to return to the surface.  All in all it was quite a trip!

Our afternoon trip brought a different variety of animals to watch.  We started out with several Minke whales and then we were treated to a pod of Atlantic Whitesided Dolphins.  There were at least 50 dolphins swimming and playing around our boat!  Our next sightings included Fin whales and a basking shark!  "Every trip is different."  We say that all the time and today's variety of animal species is a perfect example.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27

This morning we started our whale watch soon after passing by the Isles of Shoals. A relatively small minke whale was moving about.
This particular minke whale appeared to be much smaller than ones we normally encounter
After a few looks at this "nugget" we headed further offshore and saw 3 fin whales. We had one fin whale napping and even fin whale #0282 nearby.
The tip of the tail of one of our fin whales today!
Fin whale #0282
Our last whales of the trip were two humpback whales. Hornbill and Gondolier are still spending time in the Jeffreys Ledge area!
Humpback whale tail
We thought our sightings were over but not quite yet. During our trip home we found 5 basking sharks!
Two basking shark dorsal fins at the surface near the Isles of Shoals
This afternoon we started the trip in search of some basking sharks and found just that! We checked out one of these large sharks before heading further offshore.
Basking shark dorsal fin
During our travels we found 3 minke whales and even Hornbill the humpback whale again.
This time on our travels home we let Mother Nature showcase some other impressive sights with the cool cloud formations we saw as the weather rolled out offshore.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26

Today we saw multiple species of whales and an added bonus of basking sharks on both of our trips! This morning we saw 3 fin whales, 3 minke whales, 2 humpback whales and 7 basking sharks.
Fin whale
Fin whale exhaling
Humpback whale tail
We got some great looks at all of the different types of whales we saw including Dingle the fin whale and humpback whales Hornbill and Gondolier.
Dingle the fin whale
Hornbill the humpback whale
Gondolier the humpback whale
On on travels back to the mainland we found ourselves surrounded by 5 basking sharks just beyond the Isles of Shoals. What a fun surprise!
Close-up look at a basking shark so close to the boat
Basking shark wandering through the water beyond the Isles of Shoals. Don't worry. These fish have no major teeth. They are filter feeders and are only "dangerous" to the plankton they eat!
Basking shark with White Island Lighthouse in the background
Basking shark swimming at the surface. The fin on the left is the tail fin and on the right is its dorsal fin
This afternoon we headed straight to our basking shark "hot spot" in hopes one of these large sharks were still moseying around. We soon checked out one of the two basking sharks we sighted in the same general area.
Basking shark fin beyond the Isles once again!
Basking shark dorsal fin
As we moved further offshore we saw 3 fin whales, 3 minke whales and Hornbill and Gondolier the humpback whales again. There was certainly plenty of wildlife to enjoy today!
Fin whale diving


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday, June 25

This morning we found one fin whale after another. Among the 7 fin whales we saw in total there were also 9 minke whales throughout our travels and Hornbill the humpback whale.
The first of many fin whales to come for the day
The white lower jaw found on the right-hand side of all fin whales
Hornbill the humpback whale
With barely any wind on the water the ocean provided pristine conditions to not only search for, but also watch, these beautiful creatures. We found a fin whale napping, blue fin tuna leaping out of the water and a very familiar minke whale: Scar!
Scar minke whale!
This afternoon we saw 4 fin whales offshore and a minke whale inside the Isles of Shoals! Some of our fin whales were doing a great job holding their breaths but we got some great views of these massive creatures.
Large fin whale
Another fin whale. These whales are soooooo long!

Fin whale with the state of Maine in the background

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24

This morning, the wind was still cranking off shore and thunderstorms were imminent so we decided to stay in the harbor. By the afternoon, the sun was out and the seas flattened out nicely! What a difference a few hours can make!

We came across quite a variety of marine life near Jeffreys Ledge. Four or five huge fin whales were spotted including the familiar #9618. 

Several minke whales were also seen and although a bit elusive, we did get great views of one of them. 

Basking sharks (the 2nd largest species of shark) were grouped up as well and one of them came right to the boat, giving most of us a really great view of just how big they are! 

 On our way in, another fin whale and a few minkes were seen along with a small and elusive pod of harbor porpoises.  Such a wonderful variety of ocean wildlife today!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23

The hazy skies and reduced visibility made our job a little more difficult than usual today. Luckily, we spotted a humpback whale named Gondolier just as we were about to move our search to a different area. Short dive times gave us plenty of opportunities to view this animal as he circled around the area. 

On our way home, we got some quick looks at a minke whale, too.   Then as we continued on, a few lucky folks (maybe just our interns and mate) saw something most unusual. A basking shark breached inches from the boat as we were heading at full speed.  It was close enough that the splash soaked the back deck! We've seen basking sharks breach before but NEVER that close! What will we see next??