The pair was familiar but certainly not whales that are common visitors to Jeffreys Ledge. One was Pina, a female first seen in 1990. Pina has been seen in our area sporadically- in 1996, 2009 and 2012. The whale traveling with Pina was another female, Pepper! Pepper is one of the longest-documented humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine! She was first documented in 1976, hanging out with her friend, Salt! Salt and Pepper were the first 2 humpbacks to be given names, and as neither are regular visitors to our area, it made this sighting even more special. Pepper has only been documented once before in our area- in late Sept 2008.
|Humpback Whale, Pepper|
|Humpback Whale, Pina|
|Pina diving, and Pepper slapping|
|Pepper's huge, 15-ft long flipper|
As we awaited the pair to come back up for air, a harbor seal popped up nearby, and just as quickly, it disappeared back into the sea.
As we watched the humpback whales, we couldn't help but notice some fishing gear (buoys) in the area, very close to where Pepper was slapping. Entanglements in fishing gear is a notorious problem for all species of whales and the vast majority of humpbacks in the Gulf of Maine have scars from prior entanglements...and those are the lucky ones that survived. Even though the local fisheries are required to abide by certain regulations to ensure their gear is as safe for whales as the government mandates, the entanglements, injuries and deaths still occur. As I mentioned, one thing you can do to help the whales is to know where your seafood comes from, how it is caught and what other animals are put at risk or even killed to get that food to your table. Your dining choices are crucial in the protection of our endangered whales.
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