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.

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11 Granite State

It was a day full of firsts when it came to all the whales we saw on our trip today. A new mother and her calf Humpback whale pair, a new single Humpback whale and even a rare species sighting were all seen during our travels to Jeffreys Ledge.

For starters got a chance to spend time with 3 Humpback whales. Two were on the move together and one swam in circles on the outskirts of the area. It didn't take long to recognize one of the whales in the area. This whale has prominent white dots on either side of its dorsal fin and was so named because of them. It was Freckles! 
But it wasn't Freckles that we saw first, it was her calf. This whale was spending much more time at the surface while Freckles was creating bubble clouds (a way Humpback whales corral schooling fish). 
Calf swimming past us
Eventually the two whales joined up once again and continued to move around together. Another day and another day with a new pair in our area!
Freckles and her calf (above and below)

Can you see Freckles freckles?
The lone Humpback whale was out in the distance and did swim past us at one point. We are still in the process of attempting to match this animal up to one of the whales in the catalog. We will let you know if/when that occurs! 
Currently unknown Humpback whale
Our trip ended with an even more special sighting. Out in the distance a few highly endangered North Atlantic Right whales were actively participating in a surface active group. This is the first time we have been lucky enough to spot such a species in the area. These whales are so endangered researchers are concerned they may go extinct as their population hovers just over 500 individuals. To be lucky enough to see one of these kinds of whales is incredible, let alone a few rolling around as flippers and tails broke the surface.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 9 Granite State

The breezy conditions from the past few days had churned up the ocean as we felt a bit of the leftover energy still residing in the waves while on our trip. Even with a little extra motion we still got the chance to spend time with 3 Fin whales and 3 Humpback whales before returning back to Rye Harbor today. Our first whale of the day spent 20 minutes underneath the water before resurfacing for more air. We can barely hold our breath for 20 seconds under the water let alone 20 minutes! 
Our very good breath-holding Fin whale!
We decided to leave this whale in hopes of finding anything else that may be spending a bit more time on the surface; not underneath it! It wasn't long until our decision paid off as we ended up in an area where there were two more Fin whales around. 
Fin whales on the move. Not even a little wave action from the ocean deters these incredible creatures from maneuvering around with such ease (above and below)

Fin whale moving through the ocean
At first our pair appeared to be on the move together but in a matter of moments broke off in their own directions. We got some nice looks at both of them allowing us to appreciate just how enormous these creatures really are! 
Fin whale

With a bit more time to do some searching we ventured further offshore leaving our whales to continue on with their day as we pressed on to see if anything else was in our area. 
The whales weren't the only ones out looking for fish. The area is back open for larger industry boats to snatch up lots, and lots, and lots of schooling fish.

Even a Coast Guard plane was checking out the ocean today and cruised right overhead us. Think they saw any whales?
Our efforts paid off as only moments after deciding to head for home, a few spouts were seen. 3 to be exact, and from a different type of whale. There were 3 Humpback whales on the move together! A trio including a mother and her calf where close by.
Trio of Humpback whales!
We quickly realized Tectonic was the guest visitor to the family whale pair and initially thought it may be Rattan (as the three of those whales had been seen together last week), but it wasn't! Not only had Tectonic decided to become associated with a different mother/calf pair it was a new pair to the area for the year. It was Partition and her calf! 
Partition and Tectonic
Did you know we saw Partition during the fall season last year? Little did we know she had been pregnant the whole time! 
Partition and her calf
While Partition and her calf were sighted earlier this year off of Bar Harbor this is the first time this pair has been documented on Jeffreys Ledge this year. Thanks for returning once again Partition along with your calf!

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Atlantic Queen October 5, 2013

A chilly fall day out on the water yesterday, but the crew and passengers braved the chill in the air in search of some wildlife out at Jeffreys Ledge. We had a few visitors who were experiencing their first whale watches ever, and I certainly think the whales delivered! We started our trip with a few minke whale and harbor porpoise sightings. Unfortunately they were all moving quite fast, and we wanted to make our way out to Jeffreys Ledge so we decided to press on. Once we made it out to the ledge, we came across two humpback whales, Echo and Cacophony.

Echo is a female humpback who was born in 1990, making her 23 years old! You can see how she gets her name by the 'echo' lines on her left fluke.

Cacophony was also with Echo, and was first sighted back in 1988. We are not sure if Cacophony is a male or female, although has not been seen with a calf since their first sighting in the late eighties. Cacophony gets its name from the noise marks on its fluke.

We had some activity from these two whales, like flipper slapping and a few roles from Cacophony. Everyone on board was surprised, including the crew. But the surprises didn't end there. We decided to leave this pair behind and investigate more of the ledge. Eventually we came across a fin whale, we believe to be 9618. Notice the large notch in the dorsal fin.

This whale was very active, and very unpredictable as it kept changing directions and catching both the crew and passengers off guard. It seemed to be feeding, and would filter water out of its baleen plates as it reached the surface.

What a wonderful day! Thank you to everyone who joined us. We hope to see you next season.

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Captain's Lady III 10/5/2013

The month of October continues to bring great whale sightings! There was a great variety of life out on the ledge. Our first stop was with Valley along with her new calf who was born earlier this year. This makes calf # 7 for Valley! As we were watching the pair, out of no where Valley breached right next to us! Valley is a large full grown female, weighing in between 40-45 tons. She managed to breach and get her whole body out of the water, very impressive! As we all caught our breath, she tail breached for us! Activities like these are a special treat, we do not see these every day!

Valley and calf
We left the pair to go check out some other blows in the area.  We came across more humpbacks not to far away, they were "Echo" and "Cacophony" Echo was first sighted in 1988 and had her first calf in 1993, to date she has had 6 calves.

"Cacophony" and "Echo"

Cacophony is believed to be a male and was born in 1990.  We also had a great look at a Blue Shark who Captain Bob did a great job of sneaking up on!  Blue Sharks can reach up to 12.5 feet and are the most plentiful shark in the sea.  During our trip home we passed by 2 different pods of Harbor Porpoise, 5 seals off shore and in the mouth of the Merrimac River a huge Ocean Sunfish!

Resting Harbor Seals off of Salisbury Beach
Sadly our 2013 season is coming to an end after Columbus Day weekend, be sure to make your reservations for the upcoming weekend and see all The Gulf of Maine has to offer.  Thank you to all who spent a wonderful day of whale watching with us and we wish all of our German students safe travels.


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Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 5 Granite State

During our trip today we got the chance to spend time with a Fin whale, 4 Humpback whales and a few Minke whales scattered around the outskirts of the area. Our first whale of the day was a large Fin whale on the move. Eventually this whale slowed to circle around giving us a chance to get some nice looks at this animal. After checking out this whale's uniquely shaped dorsal fin we now know it is #0808, a whale that has been spending some time around Jeffreys Ledge recently. What a nice whale to start our trip on before heading further offshore. 
Fin whale #0808 moving through the area again today!
Since our other whale watching friends passed along reports of other types of whales not far from our current location soon we were off to look for some more marine life. We first spent some time with Valley and her calf. 
It has been so nice seeing such a familiar whale to the area (we have seen Valley on Jeffreys Ledge many times over the years!) still spending time here as she and her calf continue to utilize the area.
Valley and her calf
Both Valley and her calf at one point even turned right in towards us, swam underneath the boat, and popped up on the other side. What a moment as you could see their bodies move so easily through the water!  
Valley and her calf just before they both decided to swim right underneath us!
Soon we let these whales move away and went to check out a couple of other spouts in the distance. Two more Humpback whales were in the area. It was Echo and Cacophony! 
We last saw these two whales over a week ago swimming side by side just like today's sighting! No one knows for sure if these two whales have been together this whole time but what a fun find to see them associated with each other once again today. 
Echo and Cacophony at the surface
At one point these two whales were in such synchrony with each other that they went down on a deeper dive pretty much simultaneously! Such a beautiful moment.  
Simultaneous dives from this pair of Humpback whales (above and below)

Our ride home provided us with one more sighting for the day but this time it was a fish, not a whale, we stopped to check out. We got a quick look at a big Ocean sunfish! What a nice way to wrap up another journey out to Jeffreys Ledge.
Ocean sunfish on its side

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October 4 Granite State

One trip with 4 different species means we had a "Grand Slam" kind of day! Among the multiple pods of harbor porpoise and even a few harbor seals we got the chance to see four of the most commonly seen whale species all wrapped up during one trip! To see all of this activity on a single whale watch is not normal so when it happens we like to pass along this noteworthy type of day. Conditions were spectacular for whale spotting for the ocean was almost lake-like (no wind) and the cloudy skies made spotting whale spouts stand out incredibly clearly even from miles away. All in all we saw 6 Minke whales, 2 Humpback whales, 5 Fin whales and two groups of Atlantic white-sided dolphins.

Our two Humpbacks of the day were actually spotted due to the fact that there was an enormous splash out in the distance. Turns out there was a pair of whales lobtailing! Basically the animals were smacking their tails onto the surface of the ocean over and over and over again. Once we got into the area this activity stopped and we got a chance to spend time with Valley and her calf. 

Valley and her calf

Valley's calf's tail
It had been a mother and her calf that had been creating such the ruckus on the ocean! After some nice looks at this pair we ventured further offshore to go in search of more wildlife. 
Valley swimming past the boat
Our next stop ended up being a large group of toothed-whales. We came across a pod of ~125 Atlantic white-sided dolphins! 
Atlantic white-sided dolphins gliding with such ease through the ocean (above and below)

While this group was on the move we enjoyed moving along the water with them as they swam all around us. What a fun sighting! 
With still some more time we pressed on as we cruised by a few Minke whales and had some bad luck with a few Fin whales who appeared to be holding their breath for much longer amounts of time. Eventually our patience paid off for we ended up watching a Fin whale spending only a few minutes under the water and circling around the area. It was #0718 again! Since this whale was spending so much time at the surface we were able to get some very nice looks at this whale before we needed to head for home.
Fin whale #0718
On our travels in we passed by a few more whales including Fin whale #9709, a whale that until today had only been seen by one of our whale watching friends at the start of this season, and yet another pod of 35-45 Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
Great to see you Fin whale #9709

What a wonderful day surrounded by so much wildlife. Thanks to all who joined us!
It is always such a special treat to see dolphins on a trip for we only see them about 25% of the time we are out whale watching!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October 2 Granite State

We got the chance to spend time with 3 Humpback whales and 3 Fin whales while out near Jeffreys Ledge today. Our Humpback whales were spending their time with each other giving us all a great opportunity to watch this trio move through the water together. It was an even more exciting sighting to see it was a mother, her calf, and a "friend" all on the move together. Rattan, her calf, and Tectonic were spending time with one another today. Better yet, all three of these whales are new visitors to Jeffreys Ledge this year! 

All three Humpback whales swimming side by side

Rattan and her calf's rainbow-blow at the surface
With some nice looks at this trio we decided to catch up to a pair of Fin whales that were moving around together as well. Once again our great crew identified our whales as we soon learned Fin whales #0808 and #0718 were associated with each other. 
Fin whale #0718

Fin whale #0808
We saw Fin whale #0808 swimming around with a different Fin whale yesterday but today was instead in synchrony with yet another newcomer for the season; #0718! 
Fin whale #0718 passing by us

Digested krill dissipating at the surface as these clouds were left behind from one of our Fin whales

Large Fin whale at the surface!
Even though our season may be winding down (we will be running through Columbus Day weekend!) the whales are still moving into and around the area. With all these different whales around who knows what we might find on our next travels out. Stay tuned to find out!

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