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.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21 Granite State

You would think all of us aboard the Granite State would become accustomed to what we might see on our whale watches day in and day out on Jeffreys Ledge over the seasons. Well many a time we are just as thoroughly enjoyed as we hope many of you are who join us in search of some of the largest animals on the planet. Today turned out to be a day just like that...

The seas provided bit of of added entertainment today as the winds created quite the rocking motion throughout the day. All of our hardy passengers were great, even the few who couldn't quite keep everything down, as sometimes the roller coaster effect doesn't quite fit into every body's sense of enjoyment. However, as usual, the whales did not disappoint.

This morning we started the trip with a single Sei whale. This whale, while not traveling too far, spent a bit of time underneath the water. Luckily we were able to get some nice close looks at this whale since we were able to track the line of footprints (or flukeprints) this animal kept leaving behind on its travel pattern. While spending time with this whale we started to see spouts further out in the distance and decided to investigate what other whales we had near by.

Our single spout turned into 3! We came across a trio of Fin whales maneuvering the waters together. What a great comparison for all our passengers to relate the size of the Sei whale we had seen just minutes ago to not only one, but 3, of the 2nd largest animals in the world!

One of our Fin whales going on a deeper dive

While spending time with these whales we actually saw one leave a long trail of red clouds in the water; it was whale poop! This animal definitely excreted a lot of waste as the line of red in the water seemed to keep appearing. This whale had recently been feeding on krill! But that wasn't the only excitement we saw from these whales. Just as we watched the cetacean defecation appear on the surface one of the other whales suddenly took an extremely tight turn as it went to go further underneath the water. What did we see next? Only half the tail above the surface of the water, something you definitely don't normally get a chance to see from this species!

Above: You can just barely make out the tip of this whale's dorsal fin on the left as its tail cuts through the water as this whale bends tightly to the right
Below: Hello Fin whale tail!
Even being such incredibly large creatures, it is amazing just how easily one of these mammals can change course almost instantaneously, shifting 60+ tons of whale body with it! Next thing we knew two of our whales came up with gallons of salt water pouring out of their mouths!

Two Fin whales coming in towards the boat as they both surfaced filtering water our of their mouths!

These animals had just scooped up lots of food in the water and were currently straining all the salt water through their baleen plates. What a sight! Our trio gave our passengers a great "show" as these animals were really just going about their daily activities this morning. Fantastic.

This afternoon we had a bit of another surprise. We ended up seeing a surface active group of highly endangered North Atlantic Right whales. Suddenly out in the distance we saw large dark grey objects appear out of the water. The whales were rolling over and frolicking with each other. To know you are near by one of these extremely rare whales (less than 500 left in their entire population!) is quite the humbling moment but knowing there were a few creating quite the disturbance at the surface was astonishing. All of us on board definitely were not anticipating the activity we witnessed today. It truly goes to show you that wildlife really does hold the upper-hand out in the open ocean and venturing out to catch a glimpse of wildlife, especially such large mammals, can be a wondrous experience no matter what the behaviors.

One of our familiar Fin whale's who continues to be spotted traveling with at least one other associated Fin whale near by over the course of this season!

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