Saturday, September 23, 2023

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!

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