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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fin Whales as Far as We Could See

Wow! There were so many fin whales around today, I lost count. On the Atlantic Queen, I believe we saw at least 16 of them! It is so rare to be surrounded by whales, having blows everywhere we look. At one point, there were about 13 whales all within one miles of eachother. Fin whales are probably my favorite species to watch. Every time I see one I'm amazed at how huge they are, and how graceful.
As we left to head back to Rye, several whales came together. Below is a photo of our friends on the Granite State, surrounded by blows!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Big fins and little fins

The past few days have been packed with cetaceans, big and small. Many finback whales have moved into the area and are sometimes escorted by groups of Atlantic white sided dolphins! Seeing a "tiny" (7-9 feet long) dolphin pop up right next to a huge, 70-foot long finback whale is one of my favorite sights on Jeffreys Ledge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What a big girl!!

We have been having some nice whale watches lately and it continued through this weekend. We had three female Humpback whales move into Jeffrey's Ledge on Friday. Rapier was feeding on her own, while Filament and Clipper were travelling together. We saw them off and on throughout the weekend and ended Sunday afternoon very unexpectedly. Clipper treated us to a very rare breaching display several times. It was hard to believe that this big female could launch herslef out of the water with such ease. I believe this was helping her with some digestive issues she was having...being downwind of her, the odor was not pleasant! :) We have one more full-time week of whale watching, then we start our fall schedule. Hope to see you in September.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Clipper and friends still on the Ledge

Clipper, Filament, Hornbill and Rapier are still hanging out on Jeffreys Ledge. Yesterday Clipper and Filament, who have been seen together for the past few days now, surprised us by surfacing very close to our bow! These two had been acting pretty lazy, moving slowly and barely lifting their tails, so it was quite a surprise to look behind us and see Clipper clearing the water several times after we had left the area. The splash she made was enormous!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Clipper returns to Jeffreys Ledge

Had a great day today on the Atlantic Queen, with looks at one fin whale and two humpbacks. The fin whale zig-zagged all over the place, similar to how our fin whale behaved yesterday. Then we spent lots of time withe two familiar humpbacks, "Clipper," a 26-year old female and "Filament," a 19-year old female. We've seen both of these whales on Jeffreys before, but not for awhile. It's always nice to see these old friends return!

Clipper looked just enormous! She's a big humpback (humpbacks usually are at least the length of a school bus, anyway!) but seemed really wide. She had her last calf three years ago... perhaps there will be a new little Clipper up here next year?

The weather was just beautiful today. Seas were just choppy enough to make it interesting. Looks like we'll have another great day tomorrow, and with all the whales around, I'm excited to get back out there!

(haven't had a chance to upload pics yet, but they'll be coming soon)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fabulous Friday - beautiful weather & lots of whales

It appears the humpbacks have returned, at least for now! We spent time with one today (still waiting on confirmation of its ID) that was moving steadily, slowly southeast.
Talking to other boats afterward it appears there were others in the area, too! We also spent time with a fin whale and got great looks at a minke - it's always great to see three different species in one trip!
Weather is looking great for this weekend. Come join us before summer's over!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blue Shark

It's exactly what it looks like...
I believe this was 0813 who was literally just rocking the boat with waves.

Mom + Calf pair, and Male

I meant to put these pictures up before! With the recent weather and surprising Pilot whale/Fin Whale sitings, I think I can speak for most of the interns when i say that this has really been a great way to end the summer. Thank you so much Blue Ocean for this awesome experience. I hope to do research with you again one day :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hungry Hungry Fin whale

This weekend ended on a high note for us aboard the Granite State. Our afternoon treated us to a variety of species, including Fin whales, dolphins, and a Humpback whale. One of our highlights was a feeding fin whale. This whale was rolling over, showing the amazing pleat distention needed to take in volumes of krill that this animal was feeding on. I'm still amazed at how this whale was able to rotate it's whole body in a matter of seconds. What a spectacular sight to see. We were treated to more feeding fin whales on Monday, along with a curious Minke whale. I'm looking forward to the nice weather ahead and I hope to see you out there.

- Beth Boucher, Granite State Naturalist

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Whale of a Weekend!

Wow... if you had told me on Friday that we would have had such great sightings this weekend, I might not have believed it. Things were looking a little slim late last week - we always found whales, but always after a lot of searching. Not so for this weekend! Yesterday, we had several fin whales, all in the same area, and we finally got good looks at a few of them when they decided to slow down!

Two things were great about today's trip. There was lots of variety, and we were closer to shore than we've been in weeks, only about 17 miles out, allowing us lots of time with the whales. And there were lots of whales! We saw about 7 different fin whales, including a mother/calf pair and our old friend "Dingle," then spent time with a pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins.

Initially, it looked like there were only a few dolphins and they didn't seem too friendly, but soon we were surrounded by about 30 of them, who swam back and forth between our port and starboard sides for awhile. There were two active calves in the pod, always a treat to see. We were thrilled with this sighting, then got a call from the Prince of Whales saying they had a humpback not too far from us. We headed a few miles south to get a couple quick looks at "Hornbill," a humpback first sighted way back in 1977, and our first humpback sighting in nearly a month! It was great to have whales inshore of Jeffreys Ledge today, and see several different species. We're optimistic about the next couple weeks....!

(Photos from this weekend will be on here soon!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I forgot about the sharks!

Somehow, I forgot to write in yesterday's post about one of the major highlights of our Atlantic Queen trip yesterday... sharks! We were searching for reported pilot whales, and came upon a blue shark feasting on some chum (or something resembling fish entrails) in the water! That one shark turned into two, and they were so excited about their snack that they didn't pay any attention as we came right upon them. This is the first time I've seen a blue shark in a long time. The sharks were about 6 feet long, but apparently can grow to 12 feet or so.

Here's some photos of the sharks and of the pilot whales yesterday. I was thrilled to see that I had caught a couple of the calves right as they came up to the surface, you can see the eye in one!

Blue shark

Wednesday's fin whale

Pilot whale calf and its mom

A tiny calf spouting behind its mom!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pilot whales return!

We had a great day on the Atlantic Queen today, with sightings of two of my favorite species- a fin whale and pilot whales! The fin whale was definitely unpredictable - taking short dives, but reappearing in random places so that it was hard to get a very good look.

The pilot whales were a few miles inshore and were much more "cooperative," as we say in the whale watching world, spending lots of time at the surface. There were at least 2 calves in this pod of 15-20 whales. I generally try to be really scientific, but it is hard to describe them as anything but cute... They kept popping up, with their heads high out of the water every time they surfaced right next to their moms. There was also a couple huge males (they have very large dorsal fins), one with a big scar in its dorsal that looked like it was the result of an entanglement. I'll post photos here soon, just haven't had a chance to download them yet!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Minkes and Fins

Minke whales were everywhere this weekend! I just came off a successful trip on the Atlantic Queen. We got about 20 miles out and found ourselves in what looked like a pod of minkes (baleen whales aren't usually found in pods like toothed whales) - there were there were 4-5 at once, in all directions, circling around as they fed just below the water surface.
I got some of the most amazing looks at minkes that I ever have - several times they circled around the bow and we got to see their "minke mittens," the white band on each of their flippers. Honestly, sometimes it's hard to watch minkes, as they surface a few times and then will often disappear - they are so quick, it's hard to follow along. So to have this many whales, all in the same area, moving so slowly, was really amazing!

Here are a few shots of the minkes. One of them had a nasty scar, which looks like it might be the result of a boat strike.

Whale with scar

Minke whale, showing blowholes and "mittens"

Can you spot the marine debris in this photo? In the lower right corner, there is a piece of rope. One of our current research projects involves mapping the locations of marine debris along with the locations of whale sightings to see how often the two intersect.

Yesterday, there were several minkes around as well, and we also spent some time with our old friend "Dingle," who we've been tracking since 2003. There's a previous post about Dingle, as we saw this whale not too long ago.

Above: Dingle's back and dorsal fin. Below: Beautiful chevron and blaze pattern on Dingle's right side.

It's very strange that we had so many humpbacks early in the season, and they seem to have disappeared overnight. However, as we saw this weekend, there's still plenty of life around!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fin Whales Galore

Today I saw several fin whales lunge feeding at the surface. It was amazing! Usually one just gets to see the back of a fin whale but today the fin whales' faces could be seen. The whales were doing other cool behaviors as well. At one point, a fin whale dove under the boat and its tail could be see under the water. This was the first time I had seen a fin whale's fluke! Another fin whale even rolled over a little bit. It is not everyday that one is surrounded by the second largest whale and animal on Earth. It is interesting to think that these enormous animals sustain themselves mostly on krill. This year has been the best year of whale watching in a while. Not only have we seen more humpback whales than usual but we have also seen pilot whales for the first time in a few years. Hope to see you on a whale watch!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fantastic fin whales

We had lots of fin whales around again today, about 5 in total seen from the Atlantic Queen. There were also a couple minke whales charging around! We were also lucky enough to avoid a storm coming by that seemed to have drenched everyone except us! We did get a few raindrops, but things cleared up quickly and we got some great looks at the second-largest species on Earth! Photos from today's trip and yesterday's trip with the pilot whales:

Top: Chevron of fin whale from Sunday's trip, bottom: dorsal fin of Sunday's (not-yet-identified!) fin whale

Above, left: Pair of pilot whales. Above, right: A pilot whale surfaces, showing its eye and mouth!

Above: two spy-hopping pilot whales and one swimming!
Below: Fin whale (not yet identified) from Saturday's trip

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Playful Pilot Whales

Pilot whales were out and about playing today. This active group was jumping, swimming upside down, hitting their tails on the waters surface, and giving the Atlantic Queen and its passengers curious looks. Often found swimming in groups or pods, the group seen today even had a few calves! We also sighted a finback whale which gave an excellent size comparison between the two different species. Its always exciting to see all the different whales that call the ocean and jeffrey's ledge home.