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, September 21, 2008

Amazing stuff!

Today we were treated to the extremely rare sighting of 4 north Atlantic right whales. As Jen posted below, right whales are highly endangered so to see just one is a special event. One right whale was particularly active and jumped out of the water a couple of times, much to the delight of our visitors. Some researchers suggest that right whales may only be around for the next 50-200 years so we really felt privileged to be among them today.

Surprising Sightings!

What a day! We ended a gorgeous weekend with a terrific trip. We started off seeing some very active Atlantic white-sided dolphins. The pod just seemed to grow as we watched them, we estimated we ended up with about 75!

Then on to the craziness of the day. We came upon two sei whales, a species rarely seen here, and then were astounded when not one, but two, North Atlantic right whales came into view! At an estimated 400 remaining worldwide, it is always awe-inspiring when we see this species, which often only happens once or twice a season.

Two right whales together
(note: this is a cropped photo)

Right whales were named because they were considered the "right" whale to hunt by whalers, who sought their thick blubber (fat) layer and their long (up to 8') baleen plates. The photos we took today will allow the two whales to be identified (when we get their ID's, we'll try to post more about them here!) using the master right whale catalog maintained by the New England Aquarium, and hopefully aid in our attempts to learn more about this species and how to protect them.
Update on 9/22: One of the right whales we saw has been identified as #2340- a male first documented in 1993 and seen on Jeffreys Ledge in 2004 by researchers from Whale Center of New England. This is the whale that we saw the most during the trip. I'll let you know if we identify the other!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Humpbacks return!

Today was a beautiful day for watching whales. We began our day with a pair of finback whales. They were staying under water for 8 minutes but otherwise sticking around the area. While watching these two, we spotted another blow to the north. This turned out to be a young humpback whale. We haven't seen humpbacks since late August so this was a nice surprise! Another finback popped up and the humpback lost us. Fortunately, a second humpback was sighted not too far away. This one was feeding and surfacing very close to our boat, giving everyone a great view of it's bumpy snout, clipped dorsal fin, white flippers and, eventually, its tail! Though we couldn't ID this whale during the trip, I just found this little bugger in our larger catalog- it is Filament's 2007 calf, which will be given a name next spring. Here are some images of this whale filtering water from its mouth, as well as its notched fin and distinctive fluke.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fin whales, dolphins and a mola!

What a beautiful day, with glassy calm seas and blue skies. We started out with a fin whale who was taking long dives, and we didn't get great looks at it. But things definitely improved from there! We moved on to find a pod of about 75 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and they were very active, with several breaches and lots of tail-lobs and splashing!
Dolphins are one of my favorite sightings on calm days, because you can follow them underwater so well and see their beautiful coloration.

We also saw an ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, and then finished up with a dramatic look at a familiar fin whale, #0354, a whale we've seen every year since 2003! This whale has a distinctive dorsal fin with three notches, so it's fairly easy to distinguish it from other whales that visit the Jeffreys Ledge area.

Fin whale #0354 in our local catalog

I look forward to getting out again. Fall is usually a great time to be out on the water!