Blue Ocean Society's Whale Sightings

Greetings! Thanks for visiting our blog. Our staff and interns will be posting their experiences here working on whale watch boats in NH and MA.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22 Granite State

Hot, hot and hot! Thankfully if you got the chance to join us on a whale watch today you got the chance to head to slightly cooler temperatures and nice fresh salt air! Of course you also then got a chance to see some great marine life as well!

This morning we spotted 3 Blue Sharks on our way out to the Ledge, many of them being spotted from our eagle-eyed passengers on the front of the boat! With a bit of haze on the horizon sighting whale spouts was a bit more challenging but our first whales of the day turned out to be 3 Humpback whales.

We had come across Mudskipper, her 2011 calf, and Chickadee. All three of them were swimming together when we first came upon them.

Mudskipper (Mom) in the foreground while Chickadee is just beyond her

We were able to get some great looks at all three, all different sized (and aged!) animals surfacing and diving together. It was quite interesting to see this exact trio again, as we had gotten the opportunity to see these same three whales together on July 16, almost exactly a week ago! So fascinating! The pairing didn't last long as just before leaving the area we spotted Chickadee out in the distance heading in one direction and Mom and her calf heading in a different direction. Easy come, easy go. Thanks to Mudskipper's calf who decided to swim by us a couple of times as Mom was still on a deeper dive, allowing the calf to check out the scenery as it awaited for its Mother to swim up from the depths of the sea. Definitely an experience.

Mudskipper's calf surfacing along side our boat

Before heading for home we ended up watching a large Fin whale doing some deep feeding as this whale continuously circled the area, surfacing with water pouring out of its mouth. What a sight seeing such a large mammal have its lower jaw completely bellowed out capturing food inside and filtering salt water out of its baleen plates. Of course capturing that moment on camera was a bit more challenging but an idenitifcation photo of this whale's dorsal fin will help us to determine if the Blue Ocean Society has seen this whale before on Jeffreys Ledge or maybe a new animal to be sighted in our area!

With a few Minke whales sighted on our ride in we were back at the harbor, and the heat(!), and looked forward to heading back out to much more managable temperatures on the open ocean!

Just as it seems to go sometimes, the whales we saw in the morning were no where to be found this afternoon and places we hadn't seen whales in the morning, suddenly we had activity there this afternoon. Just incredible how in just a few hours, whales come and go, and we get to see what the Ledge holds for us on another adventure.

We too started off with quite the squiggly Fin whale. Longer dive times and sporatic surfacing made trying to get looks at this animal quite challenging. We managed to get a couple of decent looks and decided to cut our losses and check out other areas. Thanks to our other BOS affiliated vessels (all of those who post on this blog daily) had come across a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Great! Off we went to make our way to these whales. Turned out the Prince of Whales had the same idea at the same time and both of us took turns watching these whales zigging and zagging between the boat wakes and zooming through the water.

The splashing these whales were creating at the surface of the water was great as you could see where they were going even from out in the distance. With some nice looks we pressed on further offshore. Little did we know we went searching and came up empty-handed. Again, such is what happens when you go searching for wildlife. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We had run out of time for further exploration so we started to head back towards Rye Harbor. On our ride home, one of our constantly searching passenger saw a spout, and not far away, it was another Fin whale. This whale was also just circling the area, and gave us some great looks at this whale's chevron pattern and body as it surfaced just off our port side.

Above: The swirly gray pattern seen on this Fin whale is its chevron pattern, a unique pattern for each Fin whale that helps to dileniate one Fin whale from another.
Below: The dorsal fin of this Fin whale and some unique scars on its body that we use along with the chevron pattern to individual identify this animal

What a nice surprise and a great way to end our trip. While we were unable to match up this animal to our catalog on board, the scars along both of our Fin whales today is a sad reminder of how all types of life have daily threats.

Two different Fin whales with scars beyond their dorsal fins as a result of human impacts to these wild creatures

Even though these are the second largest creatures in the world, they are not invincible to the world they live in. Whales of all shapes and sizes unfortunately have scars on their bodies resulting from an incident from either ship strikes (of all vessels both large and small!) as well as entanglements in fishing gear. It is vitally important to these whales to be vigilant when out on the open ocean as so many of you have seen these animals can surface and disappear under the water just as quickly as they were sighted. These whale's threats are impacts from us humans and we need to respect, and share their world with ours.

Thanks to everyone who joined us today in hopes of getting away from the humidity and extreme heat on land and go searching for some massive mammals! It was a wonderful day out on the water. A special thanks to both Kathleen and PJ who adopted Pinball and Owl today! Two female Humpbacks whales that have already been sighted on Jeffreys Ledge this season. Lets hope we get a chance to see them again soon! Until then...

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