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, September 2, 2011

September 2 Granite State

The weather was fantastic for sighting cetacean life today! A crisp clear horizon, calms seas, and a bit of sunshine to keep you warm (it can get quite chilly out on the ocean at any time of the year!) provided perfect conditions for sighting animals from miles away today.

Our first whales of the day was a small group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. My oh my did this group of whales want nothing to do with us! Each and every surfacing was in a different direction, coming to the surface for just a few breaths before zipping to some other section of the ocean before turning right back around once again. Up down and all around we, and them, were going in circles trying to catch a quick glimpse of these squirm-ish animals this morning. Alas, we decided to cut our losses and continue further offshore to areas of Jeffreys Ledge we've had some success with over the past few days. Well as we continued on we saw more splashing. It was another pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. This particular group was made up of a few more animals, around 30, and were much more conducive to allowing our passengers to get some great looks at these whales.

As we made our way offshore in search of other whale activity we ended up coming into an area where we had two pairs of Sei whales. Even faster than the dolphins we saw earlier (Sei whales being the fastest whales on the entire planet!) these larger whales were thankfully not going anywhere in particular. Actually, they did a great job themselves surfacing on either side of the boat, and even out behind us, giving everyone on board a chance to see such sleek moving animals.

Sei whales at the surface

At one point the pair closer to us surfaced off our starboard side and then took an extremely sharp turn right in towards us!

A Sei whale maneuvering in our direction! Have no fear, the engines were shut off as these whales (and all whales for that matter always) have the right of way

Suddenly we had 2 Sei whales swim directly under the pulpit!!!!! With the two whales still just below the water, and barely any wind on the surface of the ocean, you could look down and see the entire length, including the tails, of these whales as they once again crossed back over to the other side of the boat! Simply amazing.

With some awesome looks at these fast moving creatures we decided to make our way further east to check out some other spouts we were seeing. Well the more we scanned the horizon the more spouts we kept seeing. Whales, whales, and more whales. Sei whales kept surfacing every which direction. Pairs, trios, and single Sei whales were moving through the water with such ease and synchrony it was incredible.

One of our many Sei whale pairs seen today

At the end of the day we sighted 18 different Sei whales! And no doubt there were more that we couldn't even make our way too. And why do you ask? Because scattered amongst the Sei whale frenzy, we were seeing signs of highly endangered Right whales! These whales, even from a distance are very easy to distinguish from a Sei whale by multiple factors. One: Right whales have no dorsal fin. Their entire back is a smooth, large, surface. Sei whales on the other hand typically have extremely tall and broad dorsal fins located on their backs. Two: Right whale spouts (if given the right perspective) are very often a v-shaped formation whereas a Sei whale's spout, or exhalation, is much more vertical and column-like. And three: Right whales will typically raise their tails above the surface of the water when they go on a deeper dive whereas Sei whales just arch their back steeply not raising their tails for us to see. Who knew even from out in the distance people can determine what species it is just by keying in on some distinguishing characteristics? Pretty cool, huh? Come find out other ways to tell whales apart this holiday weekend and join us aboard!

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