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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30 Granite State

It was another unexpected day of sightings today. We had a bit of a swell to deal with all day but with the winds calm offshore the gentle roll had some passengers enjoying themselves and others a little bit "not quite right." Everyone toughed it out as we made our way to Jeffreys Ledge and had quite the day today.

Both our morning and afternoon trips started with a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. There were ~30-40 of these whales in our groups and are always a crowd-pleaser when we get the chance to find these fast moving whales. We spent some time with these whales as they effortlessly changed directions, and sides of the boat, giving everyone on board some really nice looks at these toothed whales.
Our morning trip continued to an area where we started with a Fin whale, Fin whale #0627 to be exact. This whale was first sighted by the Blue Ocean Society affiliated whale watching vessels in 2006 and has become quite the "regular" over the past couple weeks on Jeffreys Ledge.

Above: Even on the left-hand side of #0627 the chevron pattern is quite noticeable
Below: The dorsal fin of #0627
Who knows how long this whale will continue to be spotted in our neck of the woods but it has been fun keeping track of how often we are sighting this whale and where it is specifically seen around the Ledge.

Our next sighting was Striation, a Humpback whale, and an animal we have been seeing sporadically over the course of the season. Since this whale wasn't moving too much between diving and surfacing we enjoyed watching this animal close by.

Deeper dive for Striation

Just outside of Striation we were seeing multiple blows from animals and decided since we had a bit more time to search the area we would investigate some of the spouts. Turns out some of the Fin whales we had been seeing out in the distance joined together as we started with a pair, which quickly turned into a trio, of these large animals synchronizing their surface, dive, and travel time.

Fin whale #0828 was one of the whales seen in our trio of Fin whales

Who knows what suddenly made these animals come from different angles of the ocean and meet up together but we seemed to be in the right place at the right time to watch them travel through the water just alongside the boat!

We were just about out of time and saw a spout slightly further away. Since we had gone this far, we wanted to see what was out there, snap a photo to document just what was in the area, and go home. Little did we know what we were about to stumble across. There was a North Atlantic Right whale! As soon as this whale surfaced, the distinctive v-shaped blow created from the angle of this species blowholes stopped us in our tracks...literally. These animal are so highly endangered (there are less than 500 of these animals in their entire population!) that VERY strict regulations of vessels of all sizes are in place when in the general vicinity of such an endangered creature. Even from a distance to be witness to such an unexpected surprise, it was quite a memory hopefully all those on board were able to enjoy. Talk about wildlife at its finest.

Our afternoon trip brought us to a slightly different area to start in after seeing the dolphins mentioned earlier. We eased into an area where we ended up seeing 2 low profile Fin whales, 3 ocean sunfish, and 1 Humpback maneuvering these waters. Sunfish kept popping up on either side of the boat, spouts kept being seen from all directions; we were surrounded by marine life!
Super bizarre looking fish, an Ocean sunfish!

This Ocean sunfish had its eyeball above the surface of the water! Were we watching it, or was this fish watching us? Looks like it may have been a mutual sighting :)

We got some great looks at one of our sunfish before making our way over to Chickadee the Humpback whale. This whale was doing some nice high fluking and giving our passengers some great looks at the unique black and white pigmentation pattern found on Chickadee's tail.

With a little more time to search we made our way further offshore to see if anything else was lurking in the waters of Jeffreys Ledge. Well once again we were about to be surprised. Not one but two highly endangered North Atlantic Right whales were surfacing out in the distance. We were in an area completely different from where we had gotten the amazing opportunity to see one of this species of whales from the morning, but it seemed as Mother Nature had other ideas for us this afternoon. We can go entire seasons without seeing these animals, and especially not during this part of the year, but there we were, stopped short of an area with 2 of such a rare occurrence. Double wow and time to head home.

Turned out our trip wasn't quite over as on our way home we spotted 3 spouts out in the distance. There were 3 Fin whales moving through the water together. Once we made our way to the area and the whales surfaced again, one had broken off from the others and now we had a pair heading in one direction and a single Fin whale heading in another. After snapping a few photographs we quickly realized none of these animals had been any of the whales we had seen at any point during the day. What a unexpected surprise yet again.

At this point, who knows what will or will not happen tomorrow when we go whale watching. All we know is it is going to be another adventure and to expect the unexpected when it comes to wildlife! Many thanks to all of you who adopted whales today: Beth, Michelle, Monica, and Dennis. Pinball, Comet, Owl, and Stripes (and all of us!) thank you for your interest and appreciation of these creatures. Can't wait to find them and pass along the updates!

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