Wednesday, July 22, 2020

July 20-22, 2020

Monday morning we checked out humpback whales Spoon and Pinball again. This was the seventh day these two female whales have been seen associated with each other. So much research being collected (thanks to the Blue Ocean Society) into the lives of these wild whales!
Humpback whale
The pair was briefly associated with a group of approximately 30 Atlantic white-sided dolphins before those toothed whale friends moseyed on. Before the trip was over we also viewed an ocean sunfish.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
Ocean sunfish
The afternoon trip began with an ocean sunfish, the first of three for the trip. Back offshore we witnessed Spoon and Pinball still side by side. With cooler temperatures on the open ocean and marine life to look at it was a very pleasant day in the Gulf of Maine!
Afternoon ocean sunfish
Spoon and Pinball
Tuesday's weather was nothing more than perfect. A crisp clear horizon surrounded us all day, something we have not experienced much this season. Calm seas added to the ideal sighting conditions. During the morning trip we spotted four minke whales and a harbor seal prior to getting to Jeffreys Ledge.
Minke whale
Harbor seal
Soon enough we came across companions Spoon and Pinball. These whales were extra sleepy exemplifying 'logging' as best as it can be viewed.
Resting whales
Spoon 'stretching' at the surface
On our travels offshore in the afternoon we spotted an ocean sunfish before once again spending time with Spoon and Pinball.
Ocean sunfish
Little did we, or the whales know, what was in store for them. As we sat with our engines shut off watching these humpback whales napping (again!) a lone small bird flew by. Thanks to Jon Woolfe, our birding friend, he identified this flying critter as a sanderling. This bird, weighing a whopping ~2 ounces full grown, landed on Spoon while she was sleeping. Well Spoon was less than impressed with that soft touch. This 25+ ton whale instantly reacted to the bird on its back. Perhaps a myoclonic jerk of sorts.
Can you find the sanderling on Spoon's back?
Spoon definitely no longer napping!
Spoon suddenly created quite a commotion at the surface and both whales, only moments earlier napping, slipped under the surface. Seconds later they both breached! Pinball launched herself into the air first and Spoon followed suit.
Pinball breaching!
Spoon breaching!
Spoon continued with a few more breaches before she started flipper slapping. Talk about different sides of the behavior spectrum! One moment resting calmly at the surface and the next full energy antics!
Spoon's flipper
What a spectacular display of Mother Nature keeping things interesting and perhaps a lesson to be learned: tread lightly if you decide to wake a sleeping female unexpectedly. You never know what she might do. 😲 As if this was not enough excitement a third humpback whale appeared right next to this pair by the end of the commotion. Clamp's 2016 calf decided to swim in towards the mix.

No surprise here, on Wednesday we continued to be fortunate to have Pinball and Spoon still spending time in the area. On the morning trip we briefly had eyes on a loggerhead sea turtle, spotted an Ocean sunfish and a minke whale prior to getting eyes on the pair of humpback whales. Sorry, no photos of the sea turtle.
Ocean sunfish
Even in the distance the whales were being active and we wondered if it would continue once we got into the area. Well the energy level was high as we watched both Pinball and Spoon flipper slap over and over again. They even breached once!
Flipper slapping again and again and again (above and below)

But this pair had another friend with them. Diablo occasionally surfaced among the flipper activity. By the time we departed the area, all three of these whales were napping. Perhaps they needed a break after all their movements above the waterline.

On the afternoon trip we saw multiple ocean sunfish before easing our way towards Pinball and Spoon. This time, this pair was spending a bit more time under the surface but created a few bubble clouds as they circled around.
Subsurface ocean sunfish
Diving humpback
Spoon and Pinball still together

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