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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25 Granite State

Wow... today was quite the day. With so many highlights it is hard to figure out what was the best as the entire day was incredible. The weather only added to the day as the ocean continued to have only ripples at the surface and plenty of visibility all around; great conditions for spotting whales!

Our morning trip started with a Minke whale that didn't seem to want to go on a deep dive. This whale surfaced 18 times before going on a deeper dive. Since this whale continued to slowly move in a steady direction we got some wonderful looks at this "small" species, an animal that can easily reach length of 20-30 feet long. Doesn't sound all that small to me!

Minke whale

The trip continued further offshore. We ended up hopping from one Fin whale to another. Spending time with one of these animals allowed for some nice looks and during our travels it didn't take long to find more.

Our first Fin whale sighting of the day. At one point this whale surfaced filtering water out of its mouth as seen above with the disturbance (or white water) expelling out of the whale's mouth

Lots of body as this Fin whale goes on a deep dive

A few of the whales we saw were circling around the area and doing lots of filtering at the surface. These whales were doing some deep water feeding, scooping up lots of food (small school fish or crustaceans called krill), and surfacing for a breath, all the while continuously "spitting out" all the salt water trapped inside the mouth and keeping all the food inside!

One of our Fin whale's surfacing from the depths of the ocean with its lower jaw completely bellowed out meaning it had a mouthful of salt water and food trapped inside!

Check out this sequence of looks as one of our Fin whale's surfaced just feet from the boat filtering out water; and indication of some deep water feeding!

Don't forget to look at that VERY interesting design of this whale's chevron pattern (the swirly gray shading pattern on the side of this whale!)
Finally after all that body above the surface, the dorsal fin finally broke the surface of the water, barely coming into view in this photo

We thought that was the quite the treat of the trip. Little did we know what else we were going to see. Our final stop on whales ended up being FOUR Fin whales traveling through the water together! Watching such large whales spout continuously together before all going on a deeper dive was just incredible. Just a moment in the lives of these whales, yet so impressive to be witness to for all of us on board. Who knows how long these animals had been together, or would continue to be, but we were lucky enough to see this grouping together maneuvering the water with such ease.

Fin whale #0622 was one of our group of 4 Fin whales. This whale was sighted yesterday afternoon swimming alone and the day before with another Fin whale. Three days and three different scenarios of sightings from this animal. Wow.

Another Fin whale of the "quartet" of Fin whales. Fin whale #0821

Every Fin whale has a bright white lower right jaw just like the one seen above

We were back on our way this afternoon in hopes of being lucky enough to see any of what we saw this morning. While our travels to whales took a bit of time, what we spotted was another awesome time spent with such impressive creatures. Our eagle-eyed crew spotted whales way out in the distance and once we got up to them we realized it was a trio of Fin whales swimming through the water together. With a bit more time spent with these whales we quickly realized it was 2 of the same animals we had seen moving through the water together this morning, but the third whale was one not even seen during the morning hours! In just a matter of hours our group of four Fin whales from the morning had broken slightly apart. Two remained together, two split off, and a new whale joined forces. What a great opportunity to witness the comings and goings of mammals just like us.

Two of our Fin whales as they swam right by our stern!

Fin whale #0810 seen with other whales during both our morning and afternoon trips!
A Fin whale that has not yet been given an identification number but a whale we have sighted multiple times this season. Each and every time this whale has been seen, it has been documented traveling with at least 2 other Fin whales!

With just a bit more time to spend time around the area we ended up checking out another spout we were seeing out in the distance. It was a different species. We happened to come across a Humpback whale, the 2010 calf of Shuttle. As we made our way into the area and waited for this whale to resurface for some more breaths, this animal finally arose from the depths of the ocean. It was coming in towards us. We turned off the engines and sat there as this whale continued to swim closer and closer. We all soon realized this whale wasn't going to change direction. It surfaced just off our port side and with such ease slowly swam right underneath the boat and showed up on the other side! Wow! Doesn't get any closer than that!

Shuttle's 2010 calf surfacing right next to the boat after it swam underneath us!

We continued to watch this whale as we soon realized our group of Fin whales were coming through as well. At one point we had our Humpback whale and the 3 Fin whales all near by. Our extra special treat just before leaving the whales was when out of the blue this one year old Humpback whale tail-breached! The whale only did this behavior once but it was pretty amazing.

Shuttle's 2010 calf's tail pattern

Another incredible, unexpected, and beautiful day out on Jeffreys Ledge. While we never know what the whales we end up finding are going to do at any given time, just watching these wild creatures go about their daily activities is as exciting as finding them in the first place.

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