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, May 31, 2009

Today on the Prince of Whales, we braved choppy seas and found at least 5-6 fin whales and a couple of minke whales in the 500-foot deep water just to the west of Jeffreys Ledge. To our surprise, a calf surfaced with no adult whale in sight, at least for a few minutes. Then the calf rejoined its mother and began nursing- alternating which side of the mother it surfaced on while getting a mouthful of milk below her. Fin whale calves can drink up to 50 gallons of milk per day! This was the first mother/calf pair of fin whales seen this season! Check out that bright white lower jaw!

We also recognized an old friend, fin whale #9618- a whale we've been following since 1996, and who has been seen by other researchers since 1984!

Join us next weekend for another day on the water and help us find more whales!

"Fjord" the Fin Whale and Lots of Minkes

We had a beautiful day on the water aboard the Atlantic Queen yesterday. We had several minkes near Old Scantum, a ledge about 15 miles off shore, and then came upon one of our favorite fin whales, "Fjord," who is also one of our adopt-a-whales! I laughed when I saw this whale, because that morning, I had seen our research coordinator Dianna at our monthly beach cleanup, and she jokingly said, "go see Fjord today," and that's exactly what happened!

Fjord is one of our most consistently sighted fin whales. We've seen him (I believe it's a "he," since it's never been seen with a calf) in 12 of the last 13 seasons, so his sighting history with us dates all the way back to 1996. He's consistently sighted early in the season. If you ask researchers at Allied Whale, the curators of the North Atlantic Finback Catalog, they'll tell you he was seen as early as 1981. This makes this whale a minimum of about 34 years old, and he may be much older than that, as fin whales are thought to live at least 80 years.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yesterday on the Prince of Whales, we had a beautiful day with perfect conditions to find whales. We found an adult fin whale being very cooperative- diving for just 4-5 minutes at a time! We have spent the day scouring our fin whale catalog and still can't find a match. So although I am unable to tell you who this nice whale was, I am excited to think it may be a new addition to our catalog! Each year, about half of the fin whales we find on Jeffreys Ledge are not currently in our catalog, making the local population estimates difficult to assess, but inspiring to know there may be more fin whales in the area than previously thought!

We also found a minke whale on our way back to Newburyport. This little guy was staying near the boat and surface pretty frequently! If you looked closely, you could see its minke "mittens"!

Join us next weekend for more whale sightings!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend a Success!

I haven't had a chance to upload my photos from Sunday's (5/24) trip yet, but wanted to send a quick report on our trip on the Atlantic Queen. Despite an early fog and gray sky, we ended up with a beautiful afternoon on the water. Out on Old Scantum, a ledge inshore of Jeffreys Ledge, we spent time with a really great minke whale, who was surfacing with its snout charging out of the water, and circling around near the boat. Several times we caught glimpses of its white "minke mittens." This minke had a couple deep scars in front of its dorsal, and I'm wondering if it was our old friend "Scar Minke," who appears in our area just about every year. Dianna, our research coordinator, should be able to confirm that this week.

Then we searched around quite a while, and as we turned for home ended up finding another whale out on the Ledge. At first we thought it was a fin whale, then it looked too small to be one so we thought it might be a minke. It finally surfaced nearly horizontally, looking very much like a fin whale, so our final call was that it was a juvenile fin whale. Unfortunately, we didn't get a look at the right side of its head (to confirm if it had the white lower jaw characteristic of fin whales), because it dove and was underwater for about 8 minutes and by then it was time to head home.

Overall, a nice day on the water!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Trip of the Season!

The fin whales are here in force! Today was the first Blue Ocean Society whale watch of the season onboard the Prince of Whales in Newburyport. The crew was excited with anticipation of what and who the first trip would bring. As the miles passed, a few of us were getting anxious, and nervous. But then, on the horizon, Captain Billy spotted the first blow. We motered closer and found many fin whales just on the edge of Jeffreys Ledge. Three whales turned into four whales. No, wait...there's a fifth whale...and is that a sixth?? The blows seemed endless.

But then, to make our trip even better, we saw a familiar face, or dorsal fin I should say, near the boat. Fjord!! Fjord was our first fin whale last season as well! His record shows he prefers to visit the Ledge early in our season- almost always seen in May and early June each year! Fjord is also one of our Adoptable whales!

While watching Fjord and his buddies for a while, another familiar friend appeard. A small humpback whale named Sonogram swam past out boat, seemingly on a mission. Sonogram was born in 2004, making it 5 years old this year. This juvenile humpback certainly had places to be and we were lucky to capture these quick images of its back and fluke as it cruised out of the area.
We can't wait until next weekend when we will go back out to the Ledge and see who else is around! Be sure to join us!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Countdown to the 2009 Season!

We're preparing our GPS's, adding newly-named whales to our catalogs, and dusting off our raingear. The 2009 whale watch season is about to begin! We look forward to posting updates on our whale sightings again this year and seeing you on the boat sometime this summer. If you want even more updates on whale sightings, you can follow us on Twitter!