Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday, July 31

We had so much to look at today. This morning we saw 2 minke whales, 2 fin whales, a pod of ~75 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and 3 ocean sunfish. This afternoon we ended up seeing 5 minke whales (including Scar!) and a fin whale. After an attempt to check out our first minke whale of the trip we came across a large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins this morning.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
This pod was broken up into LOTS of sub-pods allowing us to move from small group to small group. We spent some quality time with these toothed whales before venturing on. Soon we saw a spout from a fin whale.
Fin whale
Want to know what happened next? A small sub-pod of our original dolphin group quickly moved towards the fin whale as we watched this inter-species association commence. The dolphins remained with this fin whale the entire time we were there giving us the great size comparison of 6-8ft dolphins with that of a 60+ft fin whale!
Massive fin whale body along with a dolphin at the surface
Dolphin swimming alongside this fin whale
Among all that activity we even saw an ocean sunfish swimming just below the surface.
Subsurface ocean sunfish
Eventually, we decided to leave the whales in the area. But guess what? Another fin whale was spotted swimming towards us and soon we had TWO fin whales not only associated with each other but also with the sub-pod of dolphins! It is always so enjoyable to bear witness to the comings and goings of these majestic mammals.
Second fin whale swimming in towards the area
On our way home we ended up passing by two more sunfish stopping for a quick look at one.
Ocean sunfish #2 of the morning
This afternoon we ended up seeing 5 minke whales and a fin whale. The fin whale was one of the two we had sighted this morning.
Impressive fin whale spout

Fin whale "blanketed" in water
Unlike this morning, we now found ourselves surrounded by minke whales. There were at least four in the same area as the fin whale! We found ourselves bouncing from the multiple minke whales in the area to the fin whale circling nearby. Never was it long before we would see a fin of some sort at the surface.
Minke whales (above and below)

It was a great day experiencing wildlife in the Gulf of Maine.
Afternoon fin whale

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday, July 30

The strong winds finally subsided giving us the chance to head offshore this afternoon. The seas were calm, only a small leftover swell remained from the past 36 hours of weather, and the visibility was incredible. Many thanks to our awesome passengers who were equally as excited to search (and find!) whales. We saw a total of 5 fin whales during our travels today! Most of our whales were just circling about so while they kept surprising us where they would pop up around the boat they weren't moving far whenever they did decide to surface.
This red cloud (fecal matter) came from one of our fin whales. This bright red color is digested krill!
Fin whale spout
Another fin whale at the surface
Among the sightings today we even found a mother-calf pair! Who doesn't want to spend time with a 2,000+lbs calf of the second largest animal on Earth?!
Fin whale mother and calf pair
Massive body of mom in the foreground while the calf is barely visible just beyond
Before heading for home our eagle-eyed captain pointed out a sighting rarely seen while whale watching. Due to the incredible visibility and our location offshore you could see Mount Washington, approximately 80 miles from us!
Can you find Mount Washington in this image?
Here's a helpful hint if needed :)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday, July 28

This morning we started our adventure with a pod of about 150 Atlantic white sided dolphins! These little "toothed whales" were awesome, swimming right alongside the boat and even leaping out of the water! 

Next we found a big ocean sunfish, the largest bony fish in the world (cartilaginous fish, like sharks, can be larger)! These fish can weigh over 1000 lbs but we mostly see the juveniles in our area. This fish was about 5 feet in diameter!

We passed by a minke whale and another ocean sunfish before finding a second pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. This pod was larger and more spread out- about 300 in the group! A blue shark was spotted briefly before disappearing into the depths.On our way home, we saw 2 more minke whales, one of which we got a decent look at.

This afternoon, we cruised between the Isles of Shoals on our way off shore.

Our first 2 whales (a minke and a fin) were elusive. Then we saw a humpback whale!! This one was named Scylla (as evidenced by the unique marking on her flukes). 

We saw a blue shark just below the surface briefly and then passed by another minke whale. We ended this trip with a pod of about 300 Atlantic white sided dolphins and another elusive fin whale.  Gorgeous day!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday, July 27

We only had a morning trip today but even through the wind and waves offshore we were able to check out 3 minke whales.
Minke whale surfacing

Minke whale swimming past the boat
One of these whales was a familiar visitor to the area. It has been documented in the Jeffreys Ledge region since 1995; Scar the minke whale. As the weather continues to be all over the place this week, we will roll with the conditions (just as the waves do) and see what may be waiting for us offshore again shortly!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday July 26, 2017

After three days onshore, we were finally able to get back out onto the ocean today.  On our morning trip we saw 4 minke whales (including Scar Minke who is available for adoption through Blue Ocean Society), 4 harbor seals and got some great looks at a Mola mola or ocean sunfish.  We had terrific sea conditions today for viewing these smaller forms of marine life!  On our afternoon trip we had a great crowd of patient folks.  The whales had changed up their behaviors since the morning trip and were taking longer dives and not spending much time at the surface.  Despite that, we were able to get a few looks at 3 minke whales and 2 pods of harbor porpoise.  Who knows what mother nature has in store for us tomorrow?!  I can't wait to find out!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday, July 22

This morning we started our trip by finding a pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins! These "toothed whales" were awesome, swimming all around the boat.

 Lots of minke whales were scattered around as well (at least a dozen!) and we also spent time with 2 fin whales including #0354.

This afternoon, the whales were a bit more elusive. We saw 2 fin whales (OK, we saw their blows.....) and at least 8 minke whales. One of the minkes was amazing!!! It swam all around our boat and even right under it several times!! We love curious minkes!

 A couple of harbor seals were also spotted, rounding out our trip.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday, July 21

Is there anything better than a flat-calm sunny day on the ocean?? Yes- when you have a perfect weather day AND whales!!  This morning we passed by a couple of in-shore minke whales before watching a really tiny one (and by really tiny, I mean 15-18 feet long).  We continued on to find an area with 3-4 more minke whales, all of which were up and then down at the same time.  A bit further out, we saw our first of three fin whales. This one was Dingle- one of Blue OceanSociety’s adoptable whales!!    

 While we waited for Dingle to re-surface, we got an odd surprise- a group of 4 adult great blue herons flew by! These are coastal birds and we were about 14 miles from shore! We just never know what we’ll see out there! 

From there we found another well-known fin whale, #0354. And finally our 3rd fin whale, known as Crow- a whale first seen in the late 1980’s.

This afternoon we also saw minke and fin whales but the individuals were different!   

Minke whale
The fin whale we got the best looks at is unknown to me, yet cruised right alongside our boat. It was beautiful!  
Fin whale spout

Fin whale

"Fish finder" showing the fin whale beneath our boat!
  We also got a great look at a minke whale- our first of about 10 minkes seen throughout the day.  We spotted some other fin whales too but these seemed to be staying down for quite some time (12-20 minutes!). Further in our journey, we saw a very nice minke whale who we’ve seen in previous seasons. This whale has an oddly shaped nose/rostrum, making it quite unique and memorable!   
Minke whale
 A pair of fin whales was also spotted but these 2 were on the move so we weren’t able to ID them.  What will we see tomorrow?? I can’t wait to find out!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday, July 20

Today provided surprise after surprise for us in the Gulf of Maine. This morning we saw 14 minke whales! So many minkes; they were everywhere! We even found a pair of these whales. They traversed through the water together for the majority of time we watched them.
One of the minke whales in our pair. You can see the footprint (smooth slick patch of water) in the background where the second minke whale had recently been

Pair of minke whales in the calm seas
Another morning minke whale
Along with all those whales we attempted to watch a fin whale (unfortunately to no avail since it remained under the water and did not resurface), a blue shark and our first sighting of an ocean sunfish!
First sunfish of the season!
As if that wasn't enjoyable enough, during our trip in, a minke whale started breaching behind us. We watched this whale launch itself out of the water multiple times. Whales breaching is always an impressive sight!
Breaching minke whale near the Isles of Shoals!!!
This afternoon, our first sighting of the trip was a pod of ~125 Atlantic white-sided dolphins! 😲 Not only have we seen these toothed-whales only a couple of times this season, this is the largest pod we have encountered so far.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Multiple Atlantic white-sided dolphins surfacing near us
Baby dolphin!
After some time watching these maneuverable mammals we ended up finding 5 minkes whales during the reminder of the trip. What a day.
Afternoon minke whale