Sunday, September 12, 2021

September 11-12, 2021

Saturday was a beautiful afternoon for watching whales (and dolphins and ocean sunfish). The morning breeze faded, leaving us with an ocean swell but otherwise calm seas.

Heading offshore, we found a pair of ocean sunfish, also known by their Latin name, Mola mola, which translates into millstone- a large round grey rough object used to grind grains.

Next, we saw a fishing boat heading in from its charter and noticed they stopped abruptly. We called them to ask why they stopped, and we learned the boat found a pod of dolphins! We headed that way and relocated the large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins! These animals were fantastic, swimming closely alongside our boat, allowing us to check out their cool stripes. We also found another ocean sunfish amid the dolphins!

Ocean sunfish

Heading east, we came upon an area where five humpback whales were hanging out. Owl was by herself today and doing a bit of napping at the surface between dives.

Two pairs of humpbacks were in the distance. The first was Nile and Scylla, a pair that has been together for the better part of two months (maybe more).

Then in the distance, we saw the other pair start to become active by tail breaching and slapping.  We normally don’t rush over the active whales when we are watching other whales since we know that the whales will stop their activities by the time we get there, but we were temped. 

We idled their way and soon determined we were looking at Ebony, who was doing most of the tail-slapping, and Brine.  As we watched the activity, we noticed that Nile began to tail-slap as well! Likely a form of communication, tail-slapping, and tail-breaching are known behaviors for humpback whales, but not for most other species of large whales.

Tail breach from Ebony

The white water from Ebony's tail breach while Nile is tail-slapping in the distance

Sunday, the ocean looked a little different as the SW wind blew steadily, creating some choppy seas.  The starboard side of the boat got pretty wet as we headed out to where we found whales yesterday.  Fortunately, we found a pair of humpback whales not that far away. Nile and Scylla are still hanging out together! These two were slowly heading toward Cape Ann and staying underwater for around 8-9 minutes. 

Humpback whales diving in perfect synchrony

Humpback whale, Nile

At one point, we looked over at our fish finder to see two huge "fish" below us! Nile and Scylla were directly below the boat! 

We said goodbye to the pair and started to make our way back to Rye but decided to take the long way home. Our intern, Tiffany, spotted an ocean sunfish that turned out to be exceptionally cooperative giving both sides of the boat incredible looks! Ocean sunfish are odd-looking creatures, and we love to show our guests onboard another form of marine life!

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