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, September 30, 2013

September 29 Captain's Lady III

The foggy conditions this morning were a bit ominous as we arrived to prepare the Captain's Lady III for another whale watch. But soon the sun began to poke through the clouds and the fog rapidly burnt off, just in time for us to arrive at Jeffreys Ledge where whales had been reported! Our trip out brought several small groups of harbor porpoises (notoriously shy animals) as well as some seals. Then we saw the tell-tale black fin flopping up and down- an ocean sunfish!! We pulled up near it and this large fish swam right up to the boat! Ocean sunfish (Mola mola) are "interesting" looking fish and the largest species of bony fish in the world!
Ocean Sunfish
As we approached an area where whales were seen the day before, we slowed down and took a good look around. No whales, but we did see several seals including 3 harbor seals and a pair of gray seals! This harbor seal might have thought it was too bright out since it has one eye closed.
Harbor Seal
We headed further out to the Ledge and made our way through the fleet of tuna boats. We try not to disturb the tuna fisher-people as the tuna industry can be quite lucrative depending on the size and quality of bluefin tuna caught. But in the area with the tuna  boats were several humpback and minke whales!

Our first whales were a pair- Echo and Cacophony! Although Cacophony has been seen earlier, this was our first sighting of Echo for the year!  And just after the pair lifted their flukes and dove, a third humpback popped up close by! This was Trowel! She has been seen prior this year but hasn't  been a regular visitor to our area. She has only been seen here during the 2009 season!

Check out the variations in pigment on the flukes below:
Such a variety of life out there today! Today reminded us that we never know what to expect from nature, yet we were happily pleased with the outcomes today!
Whale Breath

 We hope to see you all back again soon! We only have a couple weeks left before we hang up our  binoculars and cameras for another long winter season.

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September 29 Granite State

We have been so lucky this fall to be surrounded by such beautiful weather and today was of no exception. I am pretty certain we could all get accustomed to these conditions and hopping on a boat to go whale watching certainly is a fantastic way to get the full effect of these wonderful temperatures. Our travels today actually brought us back to Jeffreys Ledge; a place we have not travelled to in a few weeks! The whales had previously been spending so much time inshore of the ledge that we were getting spoiled! Today it looks like some of the whales decided to move a bit further offshore and back to more typical places we tend to find such beings.  Thanks to our other whale watching friends we ended up in an area where there were 3 Humpback whales around. One was spending a lot of time under the water so we ended up sticking with the two whales swimming along together and watching the lone whale circle around the outskirts of the area. Trowel seemed content moving around on its own today while the pair we watched consisted of Cacophony and Echo. 

Echo has not been seen in our area all season so what a nice surprise to come across yet another whale to add to the animals spending time around Jeffreys Ledge this year. 
Cacophony and Echo

Deeper dive for our pair
These two whales were providing us with some incredible looks at them for many times the two whales would be in complete synchrony as they moved through the water together. 
Simultaneous whale spouts!

In addition to watching these whales we also had a few Minke whales pop up around us as they too were moving on through the area. 
Super pointed dorsal fin from this Minke whale
With some wonderful looks at the two adult Humpback whales we decided to do a bit more searching before we needed to head for home. 
Can you make out the slight rainbow-blow from Echo?
Soon another spout was visible and it belonged to yet another Humpback whale. Patches was still near by! We have not seen this whale in over a week so we were happy to learn Patches may not have moved far from the area over the course of the past eight days.
Hello again Patches!

As we headed for home and passed by a few more Minke whales (6 in total for the day) the ocean still had a few more surprises awaiting for us. Our travels brought us into view of 2 more Humpback whales. It was Valley and her calf. We spent a little time with this pair and even got the chance to see both Mom and her calf raise their tails above the surface together (a behavior that is learned many times causing the calf to not quite figure out this body movement all the time). 
Valley and her calf (above and below) both raising their tails above the surface. Even whale calves like to do whatever Mom does.

With a few nice looks at this pair we were off once again back towards Rye Harbor. Turns out we had one last stop along the way. Past all the groups of harbor porpoise a large fin kept breaking the surface. We had an Ocean sunfish ahead of us! Conditions were absolutely perfect to check out this fish, the largest bony fish in the ocean. 
This Ocean sunfish swam right along side the boat giving everyone the chance to snap a few pictures of it!
So much marine life on such a beautiful day was once again cause for a wonderful day spent out on the water.
A pretty perfect combination: a beautiful calm ocean and a whale spout

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28 Atlantic Queen

Amazing whale watch today! We headed out toward Jeffreys Ledge, and didn't even have a chance to travel out that far before we came across a host of activity. Our first sighting was a minke whale who was scooting across our path. He didn't stick around very long, which was fine because there was plenty more to see. Just a few hundred feet away we saw a pair of humpback whales.

It was Valley and her 2013 calf. This was my first mom calf pair of the season, and they did not disappoint!

 Shortly after coming across the mom calf pair we got a wonderful surprise! Valley's calf was very active, breaching a few times, and spy hoping. This was my first mom calf pair of the season, my first breach of the season, and my first spy hop ever. I'm not sure who was more excited about today's trip, me or the passengers.
Valley's calf breaching
Valley's calf breaching
More breaching from Valley's calf
Flipper slapping from Valley. You can see the calf's dorsal fin too.

More flipper slapping

Valley's calf doing a head stand? 
Spy hoping from Valley's calf

Valley's calf's fluke
Valley's fluke
 After leaving the mom calf pair behind, we searched for another humpback whale. Unfortunately that whale was very low profile and moving around quite a bit so we never got any great looks. Luckily there was another minke whale moving through the area, and some more spouts nearby. We decided to head over to the spouts. It was another humpback whale pair, but this time it was not a mom calf pair. It was Trowel, a female born in 2003, and my favorite, Nile a female born in 1987.

Trowel's fluke
Nile's fluke
Thank you to everyone who joined us out on the whale watch today! We hope to see you again next season. 

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September 28 Granite State

Whales were very much present as we saw 1 Minke whale and 7 Humpback whales during our trip today. Our first Humpback whale of the day was being extremely elusive. This animal was spending well over 10 minutes under the water and moving in completely random directions making it quite tricky to get a look at it. The few looks we did manage to get revealed that this whale most certainly had a rough go recently. Many linear indentations were seen on either side of this whale, a very real reminder of how susceptible all whales are to fishing gear. This whale had become entangled in gear at one point in its past (as the scars indicate) and is a lucky one to have survived the ordeal. 
Our first whale of the trip (above and below). Those linear marks are due to previous line chaffing along the whale's body
Since this whale was being difficult to keep track of and we did not visually seeing a definite reason to stay longer (if we saw or strongly believed it to still be entangled we would have stayed) we ventured off towards some of the other spouts we were seeing not too far away.

We ended up first spending some time with Valley and her calf. Turns out this pair had a few extra "friends" traveling around with them today. A small group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins were mixed in with this mother and her calf! 
Valley and some tiny dolphin dorsal fins in front of her!

It was great to see such the spread of marine life size from the 6-8ft dolphins, to the ~20ft calf, to the 40-50ft adult Humpback whale! 
Big mamma Valley and a few Atlantic white-sided dolphins

Valley's calf

Valley's calf current pigmentation pattern
We spent some great time with all these creatures before the dolphins moved on in their own direction and the pair moseyed out of the area in their own direction. So we too head off in yet another direction to check out another pair of Humpback whales!

This second pair of whales was Nile and Trowel. The two ended up moving right towards Valley and her calf and at one point we had a pair of whales on one side of the boat and another pair of whales on the other side. Awesome!  
Nile and Trowel

With some nice looks at everything we decided to move on out of the area and do a little exploring before we needed to head for home. Weren't we excited to end our trip on yet another pair of whales. Touchdown and Ditto are still in the area! 

These whales were on the move together as we were all very excited to see both of these whales still in our area (check out September 25 for the full story of these whales!). It was a great end to a very nice day full of whales.
Ditto and Touchdown

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Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27 Granite State

Our trip today once again brought us to areas inshore of Jeffreys Ledge. It has certainly been a nice change of pace having so much whale life so close to home. Hopefully the trend continues! Today we saw 2 Minke whales, 2 Humpback whales and a Fin whale. Our two Humpback whales from the day were swimming around on their own and were Trowel and Nile. 
Both Trowel and Nile were slowly moving through the area, neither one of them seemingly going in any particular direction. Each of these sightings provided some very nice looks at these mammals. 
Nile coming in towards the boat!

Along with these whales we also had a couple of Minke whales swim past us before ending our trip on a Fin whale circling around the area. 
Dorsal fin from one of our Minke whales. We know this whale has been seen a handful of times this year due to its extremely uniquely shaped fin!
We were even lucky enough to see a massive cloud at the surface left behind our Fin whale today. Quite a large bit of cetacean defecation! 
That colored cloud is Fin whale poop!

Whale defecation still dissipating at the surface
These clouds are a great sign that this whale had recently been feeding and was just getting rid of lots of excess waste. Definitely not something you expect to see but a fun sighting regardless!
Fin whale (above and below)

Conditions are forecasted to be quite nice this weekend so hopefully that holds. Just make sure to bring some extra layers if you come on out. The fresh fall air certainly gets nice and cool when you find yourself miles and miles offshore!

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