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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Granite State Season a Success!

Our whale watch season has come to a close and for most of us it will be a long winter before we get the chance to venture back to Jeffreys but by no means had the whales already left the area during our last trip. The season ended with some great sightings including Fin whales and Harbor porpoise. To see both baleen and toothed whales on our last cruise for the 2009 season was a great way to wrap up such a memorable season for the Granite State. For those of you that joined us this year we thank you and look forward to seeing you again next season. A special thanks to all the many friends, family and "regulars" who joined us for our last journey to Jeffreys Ledge. See you again in May as we all anxiously anticipate what 2010 will bring to the Ledge and life out on the open ocean.

From all of us on the Granite State thank you!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday, Oct 10 on the Prince of Whales

Today far exceeded my expectations! The wind was blowing, the seas were building, but Jeffreys Ledge provided yet again for us. We encountered three species today: a young humpback whale, three fin whales, and two groups of Atlantic white sided dolphins!

The young humpback is the 2005 calf of Scylla. As of now, I don't think this whale has a name yet but we are still awaiting some more information. We saw this whale during its calf year, in 2005, when Scylla brought it to Jeffreys Ledge to learn how to feed!
We moved offshore and found a very rare sight! A fin whale surfaced after a long, 10+ minute dive. It was right along side our boat, showing us all the parts of a fin whale we usually see: blow, chevron, back and dorsal fin. But then the whale must have been taking lessons from the humpback because it lifted its tail completely out of the water!! This is a very unusual sighting! Fin whales don't normally lift their flukes up when going down for a dive simply because they don't have to. It is said that fin whales only lift their tail once in every 20,000 dives! Our lucky passengers had a once-in-a-lifetime experience today!! Absolutely beautiful!!


As we tried to keep up with this unique whale, we encountered another fin whale that was being
escorted by a small group of Atlantic white sided dolphins! What a surprise to find the dolphins right along side the huge whale! This particular fin whale had a small scar behind its fin, on the area just ahead of the tail- evidence that it was recently entangled. Fortunately, this whale escaped with just a scar. Other whales aren't always so lucky.

What a fantastic day on the ocean! Tomorrow is sadly our last trip of the season. Last chance to see some amazing whales!

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A Pleasant Surprise

Today aboard the Granite State I must say I was not super excited to head out to look for whales. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but the wind forecast was not calling for it to be a good day. However, much to our surprise this morning, there was barely any wind and we were going to try to squeeze the trip in between the rain showers and the gusty wind scheduled for the day. Well we did just that and it was well worth the chance. The wind began to blow, as all of our passengers felt on our way back to the harbor, but we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity we came across during our whale watch and well as the delay of the onset of wind.

Our sightings began rather close to the Isles of Shoals when we spotted a Minke whale a mile outside of the islands. We got a few quick glimpses of this whale and then choose to continue on our way since we were still quite inshore. Thanks to the help of our other whale watching friends aboard the Prince of Whales, we were informed they had another species for us to check out. On our way towards the area we passed by at least 6 different Harbor porpoise that were cruising by our starboard side. Once we got close to the Prince of Whales turns out we had a Humpback whale close by. We did a preliminary check for potential identification of this particular animal but so far no go. We will continue to look through more photographs to hopefully match up this juvenile animal that gave us quite the show. At least six times this whale came up with it's pleats extended filtering out massive amounts of saltwater. This animal was doing some subsurface feeding and gave us some great looks as this whale came up nose first multiple times. Of course as soon as we have a positive ID on this critter we will let you all know. UPDATE: This whale is the 2005 calf of Scylla!!!

We also found two Fin whales doing a bit of travelling once we left the Humpback whale which gave our passengers a great comparison of sizes between a "small" Humpback whale and the 2nd largest animal in the world! The trip wasn't over quite yet when we ended up close by the Prince of Whales again as we both watched a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins travelling just in front of another Fin whale! Here is a photo of the Fin whale as it goes on a deeper dive.Very rarely do we see two such different species of whales interact in this manner but I love when we get the chance. To have both toothed whales and baleen whales coexisting so seamlessly together amazes me every time. It was a great way to wrap up a fantastic trip.

Tomorrow we head out one last time for the 2009 season. I can't believe it is just about over but am looking forward to having the opportunity to watch whales out on Jeffreys Ledge for one more afternoon. Hope you come join us as well!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday on the Granite State

We ventured out towards Jeffreys Ledge yesterday with a group of kids from Somersworth. We were pleasantly surprised to find some large animals closer inshore than we've recently been encountering. Even before we began to see blows from whales on the horizon a group of Harbor porpoise was spotted close by the boat and gave everyone a chance to see some toothed whales before finding the larger baleen whales.

As for the baleen whales we ended up seeing 3 different Fin whales during our trip. The first whale was spending the majority if it's time underneath the water making whale watching not the easiest of tasks. Then again the whales do what they want to do whenever they want to do it so we are the ones that are at the mercy of whales, not the other way around. As we were waiting for the animal to resurface we kept seeing another exhalation from a different whale a few miles away. We decided to maneuver towards that direction and see if perhaps this other whale was being more "cooperative" for all of us aboard the boat.

As we zoned in on the area where this other whale was, it turned out we actually had two different Fin whales in this vicinity. We spent our time with one of the whales that was surfacing a bit more often and got some incredible looks at the 2nd largest animal in the world! During one surfacing the whale remained right alongside the boat giving everyone the chance to see the entire length of this animal and the brilliance of it's white lower jaw and chevron pattern right next to us. Definitely about as amazing of a look you can ever get from these massive creatures.

Thanks again to all of you from Somersworth for spending your afternoon with us and helping to point out all of the activity we had during our trip. Just a few days left of our 2009 season, can't believe just how quickly time goes by sometimes. Hope to see you out this weekend!

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Still Going Strong on the Granite State

As we quickly approach the ending to another whale watch season the whales have by no means slowed down in terms of our sightings. While it seems as though the whales have recently been seen further offshore, closer to the Ledge, we still have continued to see lots of activity. Recent sightings include lots of Fin whales, some days well over 7 different "greyhounds of the seas," Ocean Sunfish, pods of Atlantic white-sided dolphins, Harbor porpoise, a Humpback whale still unidentified and even a Basking shark.

With one more week left to go for our 2009 season we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and we get a chance to explore Jeffreys Ledge as much as possible before we all must wait for May to arrive. Now that it is October there is a definite chill in the air out on the ocean so bring lots of warm gear and come spend the afternoon with us in search of marine animals of all sorts!

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