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, August 5, 2011

Wednesday and Thursday, 8/3 and 8/4 aboard the Granite State

My apologies that it has been several days since a sightings update from the Granite State. Cetacean activity has been quite busy for us over the last several days and I wanted to share some highlights from both days with all of you. On Wednesday, the sea conditions were simply fantastic for whale watching and we headed to Jeffrey's Ledge to see what or who may be around. Throughout the day we had several sightings of harbor seals, blue sharks, and even an ocean sunfish. Our whale sightings included several Fin whales, including #0622 and #0810. During the morning we had fin whale #0622 travelling with another fin whale, who has yet to be identified and as we spent time with these whales we started to see lots of splashing around them. There happen to be dolphins among these Fin whales and they seemed to be bow riding the fin whales instead of the boat! Fin whales are one of the fasest species of baleen whales, and on a rare occurence, dolphins will bow ride a fin whale instead of a boat, since any pressure waves will help the dolphins swim more efficiently and use less energy.

The afternoon was very similar with multiple Fin whales on Jeffrey's Ledge and great dolphin activity as well. These 2 types of whales were not interactive with each other this time around, but the glassy sea conditions made for great perfect dolphin viewing!

One of the most unique experiences of the day, happened to be that we were lucky enough to see 2 North Atlantic Right Whales. What was more unique was that we had one whale on each trip, and they were different individuals! With less than 400 left worldwide, we truely had an appreciation for just how rare of an occasion it was!

On Thursday, we started with a young adult humpback whale named Striation. This whale was feeding deep underneath the water and surfaced frequently for all our passengers. Just look at the "Striation" on the left side of the fluke!

After spending time watching this whale feed, we continued to different area of the Ledge and found several Fin whales, including #0926 and #0723. Here is #0723 travelling with one of our unknowns from the day.

There were two separate pairs of fin whales in the area and as we were watching one of them, a tiny bird, flapping it's wings extremely fast, flew by the pilot house. The captain said, "Hey, that's a Puffin!" I was so excited and couldn't get the microphone on fast enough. It flew by several times and here are a couple of photos of this little bird in action!

Our afternoon started a little inshore of Jeffrey's Ledge with yet another rare sighting of a North Atlantic Right Whale. We believe it is a different individual than the two seen on Wednesday and it's amazing to have such an experience where we are seeing a few around. Being so rare, when and if you see one whale, it is a great deal of their population. They feed on a type of animal plankton called copepods, and you can actually fit about 4,000 copepods in one teaspoon! These 50+ ton whales are able to sustain themselves on some of the tiniest organisms in the world! They surface skim feed and the conditions must be just right for them to be feeding inshore of the Ledge!

As we approached the Ledge, we found ourselves surrounded by fin whales. They were scattered about, but we were able to get great look at a few individuals, including our adopt-a-whale, Ladder!! Ladder, who usually likes companionship and is almost always with other fin whales, was travelling by himself and gave us great looks along both sides of the boat.

While watching the fin whales in the afternoon, a Northern Fulmar decided to land on the water's surface and seemed quite curious about us. With rare whale and bird sightings, it was another unexpected day on the water. Proving that one never knows what they may find when venturing out to search for cetacean activity.

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