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, October 6, 2012

October 6 Prince of Whales

In spite of the building wind and seas today, we had a fantastic whale watch!  Granted, I personally haven't been on the water in two weeks, so seeing anything for me would have been fantastic. But it truly was an awesome day for whales. We began our day with sightings of 3 species, though these proved all a bit elusive. The group of harbor porpoises with diving gannets was cool to watch until the porpoises got a bit skittish and took off. Next up was a huge fin whale that was sporadic at best, and then a quick, yet close, look at a minke whale. We continued on and saw a big splash about 2 miles in front of us! As we got closer we saw a blow. Then 2 blows, then 3.... At least seven humpback whales were in the area!!
Humpback whales Spoon, Chromosome and Partition
The first trio proved to be Spoon, Chromosome and Partition. It always amazes me to think of how much we don't know about whale social behaviors. Each time these three whales dove down, they would always come back up in the same positions relative to each other!
Chromosome and Partition (see the injury near her tail?)

 Then another trio of humpbacks appeared. We got a few distant looks- enough to know this group consisted of Owl, Sword and Grommet (later ID'ed by the Granite State).  Some Atlantic white sided dolphins were also milling about  but were not coming in too closely to the whales.
Humpback coming towards us!

As we attempted to keep track of the 2 groups, the whales had other ideas and apparently it was time to try to fool us. Owl left her group and joined up with Spoon, Chromosome and Partition. At one point, it seemed as if she was chasing Chromosome (the only male in this group) away! But Chromosome stood his territory and came right back in so we ended up with 4 whales all side by side! Awesome!!  At one point, when the whales were all at the surface and lined up, Owl tail breached right next to Spoon, my all-time favorite humpback!
Four humpbacks! Owl joined our trio!

Owl about to tail-breach next to Spoon!

Such a great day! For anyone who wants to adopt Owl, or one of her friends, and didn't get a chance to do so today, be sure to find her on our website  

Also of interest were the injuries we noticed on Owl and Partition. This was a sad reminder of the threats these beautiful animals face daily. Owl has the large gash across her back that she got when she was just a few years old- likely from a collision with a ship. Partition has new entanglement wounds at the base of her tail that are still healing. And as we were leaving the whales, we saw a green latex balloon floating near our whales. Marine debris- trash at sea- is a huge problem for all marine life if they ingest it. It can clog their systems, choke them and even poison them with the chemicals they contain.   People always ask me what they can do to help the whales. Here are a few simple things that WILL HELP WHALES:

1. Do not EVER release helium balloons. What goes up must come down, and as Earth is 70% water, balloons have a good chance of falling back to Earth and landing in the oceans. Sea turtles mistake the frayed balloons for jellyfish- a favorite meal. Whales can gulp them down along with the fish when they feed at the surface. Fish and birds might ingest particles of those same balloons, which can be toxic.

2. Know where and how your seafood is caught and be sure it is only caught by sustainable practices that are not threatening to whales or the marine life populations. Or better yet, avoid seafood all together. Even "safe" fishing methods, such as hook and line, that are intended to only catch one fish of a particular species can be threatening to marine life as those fishermen often use latex balloons as bobbers (and subsequently let them go on the ocean). And just last week we saw two humpback whales with hook/monofilament fishing line entanglements likely from the vast fleet of tuna boats that were fishing in the same area as the whales were feeding.

3. Shop locally. By purchasing products make in the USA, or better yet, close to home, you are reducing the need for shipping the items across the world, reducing ocean traffic. This reduction in ships on the ocean will lessen the amount of noise pollution in the ocean as well as reduce the chance of a whale getting hit by a ship.

In general, whenever you are in the position to make a decision, think like our good friend Willy does and ask yourself how your decision will help or hurt the whales. If everyone did this, the oceans would be a much better place.

Thanks again to our hearty passengers for accepting all of the elements that mother ocean threw at us today!

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