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, September 7, 2013

September 7 Atlantic Queen

What a fantastic day!  The weather, seas and whales were all great. And there were plenty of different species around, including some of the largest animals in the Gulf of Maine!

We headed offshore towards Jeffreys Ledge, and a fin whale popped up right in front of us! This is one of my favorite species, as I'm always amazed at how graceful - and huge- these whales are.  At average lengths of 60-70 feet, they are the second-largest species on the planet!

Fin whale

After some fantastic looks at the fin whale, we got some looks at a minke whale. In all, we saw 3-4 minkes during the trip. We even got some great looks at their bright white "minke mittens!"

Minke whale

At one point, a harbor seal popped up near us, and we watched it watch us for a bit before it dove down.

We then headed further offshore to do some more searching. Then I saw a little splash, followed by a blow, and an enormous white thing sticking up above the water - a humpback whale flipper!  This whale slapped its flipper a couple times and we saw another humpback near it, before both dove down.  As we got closer to where they dove, not two, but three humpbacks appeared!

The whales we saw - Pepper, Pina, and Chablis are all whales that were originally identified in 1990 or earlier - a great sighting! In Pepper's case, this was one of the first whales ever cataloged in the Gulf of Maine, back in 1976. Below are photos of the whales with their names.

Piña, a female first seen in 1990 

Piña, a female first seen in 1990

Pepper, a female first seen in 1976 - one of the first 2 documented humpbacks in the Gulf of Maine

Chablis, a male first seen in 1990

As we were watching the whales, we got a good look at things whales have to deal with every day in the Gulf of Maine, especially if they are close to shore - traffic from fishing, whale watching and private boaters (some of which got way too close to the whales today today), fixed fishing gear like lobster buoys and gillnets, tuna fishing, and marine debris.  Hopefully these whales will continue navigating these waters as successfully as they appeared to today.

Two humpbacks with a fishing boat

What appeared to be a plastic bag at the surface

We spent some time with these three humpbacks, who stuck pretty close together. There was a minke whale around as well, along with another blow. We went to investigate the other blow and it was a fourth humpback!  We spent a little time with this whale and got some great looks off the bow. I believe this whale was Patches, another old friend - a male first sighted in 1980. He has also been in the area for the past few days.


We then moved back to the three humpbacks to get some final looks before we headed for home. The whales were together at first, and then one separated, leaving Chablis and Pina together (interestingly, as I was reviewing our blog today, I noticed these two were seen together on August 24 last year!). After some last flukes from the pair, we headed back to Rye Harbor after another great day on the water!

Thanks to all who joined us, and congratulations to Steve for winning our daily drawing - enjoy your Owl adoption!

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