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 29, 2011

July 29 Granite State

My oh my, what a day. With overcast skies and excited passengers we were all ready to find whales this morning. Our first sighting occurred just beyond the Shoals with a Minke whale. We were able to get some nice looks as this whale wasn't spending all that long under the water. A few looks and off we were towards Jeffreys Ledge and the unknown of what we might find further offshore. The next whale was saw was a bit larger than our Minke whale, make that almost 3 times larger; it was a Fin whale! This animal was Fin whale #0622, a whale spending a lot of time in and around Jeffreys recently, and another opportunity to watch this wild animal maneuver around the area.

Fin whale #0622 heading in towards the boat!

As we pressed on we ended up coming into an area where we started to see a few exhalation out in the distance. We quickly realized the blows were multiplying. Not just one, or two, but multiple whale, at least 5, of multiple species. We didn't know where to begin! Nothing like having whales in all directions and not knowing where to look as you continuously saw spouts above the horizon in each and every direction. Low and behold we ended up with at least 3 other Fin whales and 2 Humpback whales scattered around.

Fin whale #0945

At one point we had a pair of Fin whales surface just off our port side; nice surprise! We slowly made our way to one of the Humpback whales in front of us. We had found Zio.

Zio going on a deep dive

This Humpback whale is 4 years old, born in 2007, and allowed us some nice looks as this whale made its way through the area off our starboard side.

While spending time with Zio out in the distance we kept seeing SPLASH and a few seconds later another SPLASH. There was a Humpback whale leaping out of the water! For the safety of all the whales in the area we first watched this aerial activity from where we were since there were other whales in between us and this second Humpback whale. Once we knew the coast was clear (our other animals were surfacing further away on both sides of the boat) we eased our way towards this active animal. It didn't take long to figure out who was created quite the disturbance at the surface. It was Chickadee!


This animal has provided our passengers quite the show thus far this season as this whale has been seen multiple times actively filtering at the surface, circling around the boat, and even tail breaching over this last month. Today Chickadee once again proved to be the fan favorite with more impressive displays from this wild animal.

Even from further away it was a sight to watch a whale propel itself out of the water

Chickadee breached 18 times while we watched this whale! But that wasn't it. 35 flipper slaps, 23 "belly up" flipper slaps, continuous rolling at the surface, and even 2 clouds of red whale poop were the behaviors Chickadee decided to showcase while we sat there in awe. Many thanks to our intern Jenny who was quite the busy bee today recording EVERY SINGLE behavior this animal was doing (down to the second!) allowing us to be able to give you these statistics on this whale's behaviors. You try swimming in the water and propel yourself clear out of the water over and over again... absolutely incredible. This 5 year old whale continued to breach multiple times, roll over, flipper slap, go on a deeper dive and then repeated the whole sequence again! Not only is it rare to see a whale jump clear out of the water once but to have the same animal do it over, and over, and over again is beyond words!

Below: Chickadee rolling around at the surface raising its flippers high into the air before smacking them back on the ocean

Above: Chickadee "belly up" with both flippers above the waterline
Below: Can you see Chickadee's open eyeball? Look at the bulge just to the right of the flipper. This whale is checking out our open-air environment!
Chickadee seemed to make sure everyone on board got the chance to watch this whale as it swam towards the back of the boat before leaping out of the water once again on the other side. Check out this incredible sequence of this animal rocketing out of the water. Could you even be any more vertical Chickadee???

Today was just another instance in the pure unexpectedness you can except when it comes to wildlife. No one even knows why whales jump out of the water to begin with, let alone for such an extended period of time. While there are a few theories it just goes to show that each and every trip out to Jeffreys Ledge is an adventure all on its own. We've sighted Chickadee many a time this season, doing many different behaviors, and we thank this whale once again for another memorable day for all of us and to all our passengers on board. This whale is quickly becoming "whale of the year" for us on the Granite State. Much appreciated Chickadee, and to all who got the chance to spend time with all the whales we saw today.
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Jen Kennedy, Blue Ocean Society Exec. Director said...

Wow, Melanie! Great pics!

Melanie White, Research Associate and Granite State Naturalist/Deckhand said...

Thanks Jen! Kudos to Chickadee for giving everyone the chance to snap a shot of craziness from this whale :)