Friday, September 3, 2021

September 1-3, 2021

Wednesday, September 1

Happy September!  The overcast skies and sprinkles didn’t scare away our guests nor the whales. We traveled to southern Jeffreys Ledge, east of Cape Ann, and found multiple humpback whales. But first, in our travels, we came upon a fantastic group of harbor porpoises. I didn’t get any photos, but I could have! Generally, harbor porpoises are shy and don’t stay long enough to obtain quality photos, but this group differed. I should always know to be prepared!

Our first group of humpback whales was a familiar trio: Valley, Sword, and Jawa. As they napped at the surface, we drifted along with them. The group crossed our bow as we were drifting, giving all of our guests great views

A pair of humpback whales was nearby, so we checked them out next. Quill was easy to ID, but his friend took us a little time as it was a new whale for us this season- Doric!  Some years we see Doric multiple times, and some years we don’t see him at all, so this was a great sighting. 

In the distance, another pair of humpbacks dove: Shuffleboard and Pitcher!

 A few other humpbacks were in the area, but we ran out of time.

 Our birding friends saw 2 great shearwaters, 1 manx shearwater, Wilson’s storm petrels, northern gannets, and a pair of jaegers!


 Friday, September 3

Friday threw us a little bit of everything. Sunny skies, clouds, rain, wind and white caps, and glassy calm seas. We also got to make a pit stop at Star Island, one of the Isles of Shoals, on our way home! Whale watching and a scenic cruise all in one!

After the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed by on Thursday, keeping us in the harbor, we weren’t sure what today would bring as far as whales. Sometimes storms move around the prey, and the whales will then follow that prey. Other times, the whales don’t seem to care at all. We got lucky, finding whales relatively close to where we had seen some on Wednesday. 

Our first pair was of two adult female humpback whales, Owl and Ebony. Ironically, both of these whales have injuries on their backs. Owl’s was likely caused by a boat strike when she was young, and I must admit, I don’t know what caused the interesting injury on Ebony’s back, but there are a few whales that have similar injuries. I’ll get back to you on that!

Ebony's unusual scar

Owl diving off Cape Ann

Next, we saw another pair of humpback whales, but this pair was a mother and her calf! Jabiru is back in the area, and her calf is looking ok after two traumatic, life-threatening entanglements in fishing gear this season.

Jabiru's calf, showing the linear laceration from being entangled in fishing gear on her back


The mom/calf pair approached and then passed the adult pair like two ships passing in the night.  The four whales were seen in the same area for a few minutes but not really acknowledging each other.


Owl diving

On our way home, we heard that a boat from Rye Harbor was having engine trouble at the Isles of Shoals and needed help bringing their passengers back to shore. We diverted course slightly to make this happen, and in no time at all, we had docked at Star Island, boarded the stranded guests, and continued right back on our way to Rye. Always glad to help out fellow mariners in need!  And I need to give kudos to the ferry boat from Portsmouth that was also docked at Star Island at the time for departing the dock momentarily to give our boat the time and space to tie up and retrieve those stranded. It was a team effort and greatly appreciated!  All three captains and crews made this appear to be a seamless operation when in reality, it was a lot of work and coordination behind the scenes to shift from our everyday routines. Love our maritime family! 

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