Friday, July 31, 2020

July 30-31, 2020

Thursday morning, we had a scheduled USCG inspection (we passed!) which prevented us from watching whales. By the afternoon, we were ready to get back out there and see some whales! A dark cloud followed us for a half hour or so, cooling us off with some gentle rain.  But soon enough, the rain moved on and we were watching whales! A familiar fin whale was our first sighting. This was # 0723 again!
Fin whale # 0723

Then we saw a humpback whale who dove while swimming toward us, and after 13 minutes of waiting for it to reappear, we decided to check out another blow in the area. Another fin was seen (no ID on this one yet) as well as another humpback, but in the meantime, a couple pods of Atlantic white sided dolphins showed up! 
Fin whale #2

Atlantic white sided dolphins
The second humpback whale was Diablo yet again, and as is common for her, she wasn’t lifting her flukes much. Oh well. We can’t always be that lucky, but at least we saw one lift from her!
Diablo lifting her flukes

Friday morning, we saw a few minke whales in passing on our way out to Jeffreys Ledge.  Before we got to the Ledge, we were waylaid by a pair of humpback whales! As luck would have it, one of these whales is a favorite of the crew. The humpback whale known as Clipper was spotted with her new calf! We saw Clipper and her calf a few days ago, but prior to that, the pair had been seen off Nova Scotia (CANADA)! These humpback whales really get around!

Humpback whale, Clipper

Humpback whale, Clipper's unique fin

Humpback mom and calf diving

As we continued on towards the Ledge, we found another humpback whale. This one was not familiar to us and we had to check our onboard catalog to figure out who it was.  Surprisingly, this was a new visitor to the area who we haven’t seen yet. This was Dross’s calf from 2018. 

We saw Dross herself earlier in the season on a scouting trip, so it was pretty cool to see that her calf from 2 years ago who still remembered where she hangs out and where to go to find food.

Next up, we spotted a tall blow in the distance. A huge fin whale surfaced and was heading our way! A couple more tall spouts were seen in the distance to the north, but we didn’t have time to check them out.
Fin whale
On our way home, we took a quick look at an ocean sunfish. These peculiar looking fish have been quite prevalent this year!

Friday afternoon, we got a surprise (and brief) look at a minke whale. It surfaced close to us as we were transiting to the Ledge. We stopped to get another look at the “little piked whale” as they used to be called, but no such luck.  Continuing on, our interns alerted us to some dolphins nearby!

These were Atlantic white sided dolphins (the most commonly seen dolphin species in this area). The pod of about 50 including some super cute calves was milling around, and one of the adults jumped right next to the boat, not once, but twice! I always love to see dolphins doing fun behaviors in the wild where they are not trained to do so.  They leap because they want to!  Wildlife is beautiful!

Next, we found a humpback whale named Diablo. This female has been seen several times over the past couple of weeks. She’s been a bit notorious for not lifting her flukes when she dives. However, we did see that gigantic tail breach the surface a couple of times while we spent time with her.

Heading home, we passed by a few seals as well as some harbor porpoises!

For our birding friends, the avian life has been a little slim but we did see a mature northern gannet, a couple of great shearwaters, and lots of Wilson’s storm petrels.  

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