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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30 Prince of Whales

What a great day! It's a wonder what a little visibility can do! We've been riding around in the fog and heavy haze for days now so being able to pick up our binoculars and actually scan the horizon was an amazing feeling! Ah, the little things in life...

We started by watching a very nice minke whale about half way between the mainland and Jeffreys Ledge. Minkes can be a little elusive but this one was wonderful! Everyone on board got some very nice looks at this "small" whale.

Minke Whale

We stopped for another minke whale up on the Ledge but this one was less than cooperative so we continued on, following the Ledge's edge to the NE. Soon we saw our first blow from a large whale. This turned out to be our first fin whale of the year!! Fin whales are my personal favorite. Yes, humpback whales are nice and all, but fin whales just hold a certain sense of awe and mystery. We watched this whale for about 20 minutes before deciding to keep going in search of other whales.

Our first fin whale heading toward the boat.

The white lower jaw of a fin whale

The first fin whale of the year!

Just as we started to move away from the first fin whale, a second appeared right off our bow. To my excitement, this was not only a fin whale I knew, but one of my favorites AND an adoptable whale! FJORD had graced us with his presence once again! We at Blue Ocean Society have been watching Fjord on Jeffreys Ledge since 1996 (5 years before BOS was founded) although the first recorded sighting of this whale was in 1981! He has been seen on the Ledge every year since 2000. The really cool fact about Fjord is that he has a habit of visiting Jeffreys Ledge in the spring- usually late May/early June.


The sightings got even better! Fjord and our first fin whale met up and began to swim/dive together. Associations between fin whales are not extremely common as these whales are mostly solitary but we do see them from time to time. It was really great to see one of our old friends hanging out with a new friend!

Again, Fjord is one of our adoptable whales. You can learn more about our adoption program at

Thanks to all of our enthusiastic and generous passengers today! We couldn't do what we do without you!

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday's Atlantic Queen Trip

Humpback Whale
This was one of those days where the suspense was built up for awhile, and finally we had an exciting finish! After much searching, we heard from one of the boats that whales had been spotted several miles away. We decided to take the gamble and headed south, where we found a pair of humpbacks.  We got great looks at the whales, although I didn't get very good fluke shots so I haven't identified this pair yet.  As we headed for home, we saw another single humpback.

Humpback Whale
One of the highlights for this trip for me (other than finally finding whales!) were the numerous northern gannets diving for fish - it was a spectacular display, with these birds flying high above the water, then plummeting quickly down for a fish.

Northern Gannet

Thanks to all who joined us today!

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28 Prince of Whales

Foggy day on Jeffreys Ledge today. We started our first trip of the season with a few miles of visibility but as we got closer to the Ledge, the fog socked in. Thankfully, one of our fisherman friends called us to tell us of a whale near his boat. We headed that way, hoping the whale wouldn't wander off before we got there! In the meantime, our friends on the Granite State arrived first and not only were there whales there, but the visibility improved enough for us to watch those whales!

Our first looks were at a couple of humpback whales, Gondolier and Hornbill. We saw another blow a little bit further away of a third humpback, Sedge.
Sedge in the fog

Gondolier close by

Mixed in with the humpbacks were a couple of minke whales. These two gave us some very nice, close looks as they cruised along the side of our boat.

Minke whales

But perhaps the most entertaining wildlife of the day were the birds! We were swarmed by migrating land birds that were blown out to sea. These little guys were looking desperate for a place to rest and our passengers were great at giving them some space, even though many of us had some very up-close and personal experiences with these birds today! They seemed to prefer to land on people rather than on the boat!Here is our new intern, Jenny, on her first day of work! Could she be the Bird Whisperer??

Thanks to all of you who braved the wind and fog today. And Happy Birthday to Meghan and Deanna!

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May 28 on the Granite State

Even the fog couldn't deter us from heading to Jeffreys Ledge this afternoon. While visibility made searching for animals a bit more challenging we continued on in hopes of finding some sort of whale activity. Thanks to offshore fishermen we were lucky enough to head to an area where we found not one, not two, but 4 Humpback whales! All the whales seemed to be maneuvering through the area, not traveling too far, and gave us the chance to see and identify all of them. All of our whales were adults and included Gondolier (again! We saw this whale last weekend and was wonderful to see it still feeding on Jeffreys Ledge!), Sedge, Cardhu and Hornbill.



Hornbill coming in towards the boat!

Cardhu and Hornbill were both seen last year during our whale watching season on Jeffreys Ledge but Sedge hasn't been since on Jeffreys since 2009! What a nice sight to see this 23 year old back in our area.

The day wasn't complete without a passing Fin whale in the fog and 2 Minke whales, including a fantstic look at the "minke mittens" of our first Minke.

Thanks to everyone to braved the weather of the ocean and joined us today. Congratulations to our first-time whale watchers and to those who got the chance to be on the open ocean for their first time in their lives! What a special day.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 Whale Watching Season!

Today marked the first trip of the whale watching season for the Granite State and what a day it was! Even as we left Rye Harbor in the fog our crew and passengers were excited to see what Jeffreys Ledge had it store for us. The trip started with some skittish Minke whales barely making their presence known before disappearing into the fog beyond our viewing ability. We pressed on and passed alongside a few Harbor seals and Harbor porpoises before the fog decided to dissipate a little giving us a bit more ocean to scan for signs of more cetacean activity. It did not take long before we came upon a Humpback whale. It was Gondolier, a whale at least 19yrs old and slowly moving around the area. Having gotten some nice views of this animal we moved onto another whale not too far away.

Turns out we came across an actively feeding Sei whale, and this was only the beginning.

The upper jaw of a Sei whale with baleen plates hanging down

All in all we had at least 11 different Sei whales throughout the trip, all of them skim feeding!
A Sei whale's dorsal fin

What a sight. At one point the boat was surrounded on all sides by skim feeding Sei whales!
A pink lower jaw of a Sei whale on its side actively feeding at the surface

Two Sei whales skim feeding. Check out the blowholes of the whale on a collision course with the other (no collision actually occurred!)

As if this sight wasn't enough we got the chance to watch Atlantic white-sided dolphins interspersed within the feeding Sei whales! The Sei whales seemed to be so focused on scooping up as much food as possible (almost exclusively plankton feeders!!) that the dolphins did not seem to bother the feeding frenzy of Jeffreys Ledge.
The dorsal fin of an Atlantic white-sided dolphin (on the left) and an open mouth of a feeding Sei whale (on the right)

The whales were spectacular and the bird life was just as good. Large groups of Northern Gannets, Wilson's Storm Petrels, and Red-necked Phalaropes were just as impressive to pass alongside in the vincinty of all the surrounding whale activity!



Many thanks to those who joined us aboard our first trip of the 2011 season! Our crew and passengers were equally as thrilled with all that we saw. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello All! Our 2011 Season is set to start this weekend! We are all extremely anxious to get back on the water and search for whales! Bundle up this weekend and come join us! We will be sharing our findings soon. Hope to see you!
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