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, August 6, 2011

August 6 Granite State

Jeffreys Ledge has continued to keep us on our toes all season and today was no exception. We have been having whale sightings over the past week or so in an area of Jeffreys Ledge, and yet everytime we venture out there we are once again surprised as to what we come across. So many people often ask if it ever gets old; going out and looking/watching whales twice a day all summer long. The instant answer is always no as just as it continues to be today, no two trips ever seem to be the same. Different whales, different species, different behaviors, are always changing which makes these wildlife watching extravaganzas all that more exciting! Just as our passengers don't quite know what they are going to see once they step aboard the boat, we too have no idea what we may come across or spend time with on any given trip. We typically return to areas where whales have most recently been seen, or have been reported seen, and search the horizon the entire time for any indication of whales nearby. It truly is a sense of excitement everytime we leave the harbor.

This morning we found a large fin whale inshore of where we have been seeing animals. With such a nice surprise we spent some great quality time with this animal, identified as #0926, circling around the area. This whale was not showcasing its "greyhound of the sea" abilities and staying relatively close by during each surfacing.

Fin whale #0926

With some wonderful looks at this slow moving animal (for the time being) we ventured on to other areas where the Ledge has continued to provide whale sightings over the past few days. Well we searched and searched some more. It took a bit of time but we ended up coming across another Fin whale. This animal was definitely scooting about the area but even with it coming up in all directions around the boat we got some nice looks at this animal. This whale has not been matched up to any of the whales in our on-board catalog which means this particular Fin whale may be a brand new visitor to Jeffreys Ledge! The distinct scar found on this animal helps us to tell this whale apart from other Fin whales even though it does not yet have a identifying number associated with it yet.

Above: Quite the scar found on the back portion of this Fin whale's body
Below: The dorsal fin this same Fin whale

Glad to see this whale is still around the Ledge as we have spotted this whale a couple times already this season.

This afternoon we started by heading out to where we had seen Fin whale #0926 this morning. Well just as Jeffreys Ledge has been surprising us recently, we we in for yet another one. Instead of finding #0926 we saw spouts from 4 Fin whales, none of which were #0926! There was a pair swimming through the water together and two others out in the distance in different directions. As we eased our way into the mix of the 2nd largest animals in the world suddenly they all seemed to circle around us. In a matter of minutes the two Fin whales out in the distance moved into the area, the pair continued to maneuver together, and then suddenly all 4 whales were in unison just off our starboard side synchronizing their surfacings! What a moment to have 4 animals suddenly converge together and swim so close to the boat. Wow. Just as quickly as these whales came together, they dispersed just as fast. After going on a deeper dive two whale showed up out in the distance off our starboard side and two out in the distance off our port side. Easy come, easy go. Incredible. We stuck with the whales a bit closer to us and realized we knew exactly who both these animals were. It was Ladder and Fin whale #0622.

Above: Even from a distance we can distinguish Ladder from other whales based on (unfortunately) the scars of a boat propeller on this whale's back
Below: This distinct shape of Fin whale's #0622 dorsal fin

Both whales have been sighted over the course of the season but this was our first time seeing these two animals swimming along together this year.

Fin whale's #0622 and Ladder surfacing close to each other this afternoon

After some great looks at these whales we were off in search of more activity. Well turns out it didn't take long, and it was yet another surprise the Ledge had in store for us this afternoon. A critically endangered North Atlantic Right whale was passing through the area. Whatever the reason this species has been making itself known over the past few days in our neck of the woods we truly appreciate the rarity of just one of such a limited population of animals. Wow again.

With a bit more time we checked out a few more areas but no whale activity was nearby. Then we saw a spout. Not one, not two, but three Fin whales. And to make things even more interesting it was 3 of the orginial 4 we had started our trip with. They were on the move, swimming in a steady direction, just moving through the water with such ease and giving us a nice way to end the day out on the water.

It sometimes tends to be a bit tricky capturing two of the second largest animals in the whole world in one photo, they are just so large!

Thanks to everyone who joined us today and who kept the search going all throughout our trips. It really is amazing how you can see marine life at any point once you get out into the open ocean these whales call home. A special thanks to Debbie for adopting Pinball today! A whale we saw earlier this season and who was just spotted only two days ago by our whale watching friends up north in Bar Harbor, Maine!

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