Friday, October 6, 2023

October 4 and 6, 2023

Wednesday, after some searching, our mate Matt saw a blow to the east. We headed that way, and then our intern Hannah relocated the blow nearby. Three humpback whales were hanging out together!! The first was easy to ID based on the large scar on her back- Owl!! Sword and Clamp were hanging out with her! These three were taking short dives and slowly moving to the west. Clamp did her signature move- the high fluke tail flick! 

Clamp's high fluke tail flick!

Sword was low-fluking and looked pretty tiny compared to the two large females! For baleen whales, including humpback whales, the males are generally smaller than the females. 

Clamp and Sword

After watching this trio for a bit, we decided to check out another area nearby with no success, so we headed back to the trio. At this point, they had dispersed a bit, with Owl and Clamp still in the immediate area and Sword seen briefly before he took off. The groupings of humpback whales are often ephemeral. We were lucky to see all three side by side for a short time!

Three humpbacks with their rain-blows!

Oh, and at some point during the trip, we saw Sword and Clamp together, but Owl wasn't with them. We sat still and waited, and then out of the depths, Owl surfaced just feet from the boat and dove right next to us!! She even pooped while doing so!! Oh, Owl, we love you so! Thank you for fertilizing the ocean farm of plankton! 

Friday, the fog blew in from the east as we were boarding the boat. Fog is a whale watcher's worst nightmare. If we have no visibility, finding whales is next to impossible (although we have had luck in the past!).  Fortunately, the fog came and went and was patchy for most of the day. A blue shark stayed at the surface just long enough for most of us to see! Then, we got a report of a humpback whale feeding nearby in a clear patch, so we headed that way. Clamp was there doing her funky version of lobtail feeding, and surfacing with her mouth wide open! Amazing looks! We could even see the small mackerel jumping out of the water, trying to escape her jaws!  Poor little mackerel...

After a bit, we left her to feed in peace and continued on to find another humpback whale, Satula, also surface feeding! He was using bubble clouds to concentrate his prey and also surfacing with his mouth open! Satula isn't known for many behaviors besides pooping, so we were surprised to see him surface feeding! Even our regular whales can surprise us! While Satula was chasing around his lunch, a school of bluefin tuna appeared right off our bow! These large fish are fast, and usually all we see of them is the white water splashes they make. 

We had a little time left in the trip to explore one more area before heading home. There, we found Victim, our 3rd humpback of the day.

On our way home, we passed a minke whale and a grey seal! We totally lucked out on this foggy Friday!

Today was our last whale watch of the season. We canceled the weekend trips due to bad weather. Thanks to all who joined us this season! Winter well, and we hope to see you, and the whales, again next year!

Sunday, October 1, 2023

September 30 - October 1, 2023

The last day of September was cloudy, a little brisk, breezy and rocky out on the water. We spent our time watching humpback whale Victim, steadily on the move. While we may have been feeling the motion of the ocean, whales certainly can slip through the water so gracefully. Such beautiful creatures.

Victim, the humpback whale

Sunday, the winds had subsided, but the ocean was still holding a good amount of energy through the swells offshore. Victim was seen again, but she was back alongside Partition, a pair that's been seen regularly together over the past week. 
Pair of humpback whales

We also got a chance to spend time with two other humpback whales: Owl and Chromosome. 

We are into our final week of the 2023 season. Fingers crossed for good weather so we can enjoy these wild animals on all our scheduled trips!

Friday, September 29, 2023

September 27-29, 2023

September 27, 2023

Today, we found seven humpback whales and a small group of harbor porpoises! We started by finding a pair of humpbacks, Fan and Sword. They were taking short dives and not moving too far.


We heard of another pair of humpbacks nearby, so we relocated them and watched as they slowly swam to the NE at about 3 knots, barely fluking, at least until we left! Looking back, we saw the pair fluke up, but we were already on our way. Victim and Partition!


We watched Fan and Sword again; this time Fan was logging (sleeping) while Sword would surface intermittently.

On our way home, we spotted a blow in the distance, a little off our trackline. As we turned in that direction, we saw the whale flipper slapping and even breached! When we got closer, we realized there were actually three whales there! Satula was in the area, but it was Clamp that was doing the active behaviors. Of course, once we got close, she settled down, but at one point, she turned to seemingly check us out!

And then, on the way home, we saw some harbor porpoises in the distance. Great fall day on the ocean!

September 29, 2023

Today was overcast, but we only had a brief sprinkle of rain during the trip. We found Victim first with Partition nearby. Victim was taking short dives, and Partition was less predictable. The pair got together for a bit- glad to see these two still hanging out!

Another boat came in to check out the two humpbacks, so we took that opportunity to scout for other whales in the area. We came up short-handed so we went back to see Victim and Partition, who now were separated again. 

As we waited for Victim to resurface, we saw a minke whale nearby and got some great looks at this "little" whale. 

Then, Victim surprised us by surfacing really close to us! Amazing!

We were getting short on time, so we moved on to try to relocate Partition. We found her, but she was taking long dives and after waiting for over 15 minutes, we had to head for home. 


Saturday, September 23, 2023

September 23, 2023

Happy Fall all! While the seasons have begun to change, whales continue to keep us on our toes. Some days, numerous sightings on the horizon. Other days, plenty of searching. Today we sighted some incredible sights. Kudos to all our passengers who came prepared for cooler temperatures and rain showers (we had both!). We spent the trip with two different mother-calf pairs. First, we checked out A-plus and her 2023 calf followed by Ravine and her 2023 calf. 
A-plus and her calf
The calves were wiggly - breaching and flipper slapping. Even Ravine got in on the action. 
Ravine's calf
While other whales could be seen on the horizon (mainly due to distant breaches) we got distracted by these whale pairs showcasing some amazing behaviors.
Ravine's calf breaching as Ravine swims at the surface
Ravine lob-tailing
Tail-breach through the wave action
The wind forecast for tomorrow will be keeping us on land so stay tuned next week when we are back out on the water!

September 20-22, 2023

 September 20-22, 2023

Well, a stretch of bad weather, including Hurricane Lee, shut us down for over a week, but we got back on the horse this week! 

Wednesday, we had no idea what to expect after all the crazy wind and waves lately. Sometimes, when the ocean gets that stirred up, the whales (and their food) get dispersed. We checked out the areas where the whales had been seen last, but nothing was around. We visited some areas that we hadn't been to in a while. No whales there, either. Then Mate Matt saw some splashing in the distance- dolphins!! At first it seemed like an average size pod that was spread out. Maybe 75 dolphins or so, but the more time we spent, the more dolphins we saw! I upped my estimate to 150. Then it was 200. After moving through the pod for 3 miles, I guessed that this was a super pod with around 1000 dolphins!  WOW!! I'm sure that was the most dolphins I've ever seen in one pod! Oh, and these were Atlantic white-sided dolphins, who have an average pod size of 40-50. Incredible!

Thursday was a beautiful morning for a trip with Bishop Brady High School!  We headed offshore on calm seas with warm temperatures and a light breeze. After some cruising, we saw splashes in the distance – Atlantic white-sided dolphins!  Soon, we were surrounded by over 100 dolphins, and we even saw a few calves!  One dolphin made an impressive leap several feet in the air, while another kept slapping its tail on the water over and over. They were an active pod, and seemed to enjoy swimming near our bow and stern. 

After amazing looks at these toothed whales, we continued on.  It took a little while, but we spotted a blow in the distance (thank you, Intern Avery!). This turned out to be a humpback whale!  This small whale was zooming around, possibly feeding on some krill, as we spotted krill at the surface.  The whale zig-zagged around, never venturing far from the boat.  It had a very distinctive tail, but we haven’t identified it yet and it appeared to be a juvenile.   

While we were watching the whale, we also got glimpses of fall migrants – a few monarch butterflies and 3 American redstarts glided around. Eventually, one of the redstarts landed on the back deck to rest for a few minutes before heading on its way.    Thanks to all the students and chaperones for joining us today!

Friday, we got some reports of whales back in the area where they had been before the stormy weather. Our first humpback whale was our old friend, Owl!! We haven't seen her around here since early July, but had heard from our friends at Bar Harbor Whale Watch that she had been up that way in August and as late as Sept 6! Welcome back, Owl!! We missed you!

Then, we saw a whale breaching in the distance. When we got there, we saw a small whale and eventually, another one joined it. These were Ravine and her calf. The calf rolled on its side when Mom came back! 

As we waited for the pair to resurface after a dive, we were surprised to see that Satula had snuck up on us! We saw him a few more times as we continued on to investigate more blows.

Another humpback was seen- Mogul! After he dove, we sat idly waiting to see where he was resurface. Well, he scared the heck out of us by coming up right under the bow! He did this again a second time before moving on. Silly whale!

A bit further offshore, we found a pair of adult humpbacks. One was Partition and the other wasn't fluking, but did tail-breach twice! Although we didn't get a photo of the tail breach, we saw enough of the tail to know what type it was and that it has the right tip missing. We haven't been able to match this whale yet, but will update here if we do!

Sunday, September 10, 2023

September 8-10, 2023

 September 8-10, 2023

 Friday, as we approached the area where we had been seeing whales recently, we saw a large splash in the distance! This ended up being a humpback whale named Shuffleboard and her calf! Shuffleboard was doing her version of kick feeding (lobtail feeding) where she would slap her tail on the water before diving, and then come up with her mouth open in that same disturbance of water! A bunch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were also hanging out with the pair, making for a very active and fun sighting. So cool!!


After a bit, we moved on and found a mother and calf pair with an escort. This was Valley and her calf, along with Othello. Just the other day, Valley and her calf were escorted by Tusk. How and why these associations occur, we may never know.

We managed to get into the harbor just before a strong thunderstorm passed through! We really lucked out! 

Saturday, the sky was looking dark offshore, but fortunately, the sun burned through the haze and held off the rain! We started with a trio of adult humpbacks: Sword, Tusk and Diablo! Although we have seen these three whales separately this season, today was the first time they were seen all together in a group! We haven’t seen Sword or Diablo since Labor Day, and Tusk just recently showed up in the area around the 5th.  Upon arrival, Tusk slapped his flipper several times while Diablo was playing with floating seaweed (which we only realized after analyzing our photos!). Then, the group appeared to take a nap!


We moved on and found another trio, Valley, her calf, and Othello.  The calf was very active initially, breaching multiple times and even approaching our boat! Then, the activity stopped as the calf and Valley started to nap, and Othello joined them intermittently. 

Sunday was overcast and breezy, quite different from the forecast. What's new??  We ventured offshore and took some sea spray now and then. Soon, we came upon a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins! This pod was pretty big, and the dolphins were moving all around us! We even saw a mom/calf pair! 

We moved on and saw some splashing in the distance. This ended up being humpback whales, Ravine and her calf! The calf was flipper slapping and when we got closer, it quieted down a bit. More dolphins were in the area and appeared to be interacting with the whales! 

Later, we found Satula, who, in true form, welcomed us by pooping a few times! Why this whale seems to poop more than other humpbacks may always be a mystery.  At least today's displays were pretty small and not all that noticeable! Satula surfaced close to the boat a couple times, surprising us and giving us great looks.