Sept 1

September 1st, 2015

Nice calm September day! We came upon a very mellow mother humpback whale with her calf. At first the calf was logging/resting at the surface while mom (Jabiru) was below.  Then Jabiru surfaced and spent some time with her calf. They both dove, and then returned to the surface a few minutes later. Jabiru and calf IMG_2677

Jabiru and calf IMG_2712

The calf appeared to start nursing! It is really quite amazing to witness such peaceful moments in a whale’s life!  We continued on to find a minke whale briefly, and then swung by the mother/calf pair for a couple quick last looks before heading back to Gloucester.

Aug 31

August 31st, 2015

Another day, another trip to southern Stellwagen.  We were lucky to find Rapier and her calf traveling with Lutris.  Lutris has a marking on the right fluke which resembles a sea otter floating on its back, and thus it’s namesake; Enhydra lutris is the scientific name for sea otters.  Rapier’s calf was rolling at the surface quite a bit, so we were able to identify it as a girl based on the presence of a hemispherical lobe.  The hemispherical lobe is only found in females and is about two-thirds of the way down the underside of the whale.  Typically, it is difficult to identify the gender of humpback whales based on the hemispherical lobe because we don’t get a look at that part of the whale, but every once in a while we’ll get a whale that cooperates for a gender shot!

Aug 30

August 31st, 2015

On our morning trip we traveled south on Stellwagen until we came across our first sighting – a humpback whale! This whale had a very unique dorsal fin with a lot of white markings and I recognized it from the previous day’s trip. It was a whale I had seen before, but unfortunately did not have an identification for it as I couldn’t find its flukes in the catalog. We watched this whale for a while and got awesome looks – the whale even approached our port side very close and swam in towards us. We were watching the whale’s flipper right under the water, but it suddenly disappeared – the whale had swam right under our boat and resurfaced off our starboard bow! Wow! Seeing the whale right under the water and it coming up very close to you is an amazing experience. Soon after we left our humpback and went to another blow in the area – there was another humpback swimming around. We only got a couple quick looks at this whale and it never showed its tail. There was also a third blow in the area, but we unfortunately ran short on time and had to head back.

Our afternoon trip took us a whopping 34 miles off shore for the majority of our sightings. We did have a single humpback that we stopped and watched for a few minutes on the way there, but only got a few looks as there was a lot of whale activity further down. We spent time with a group of 4 humpback whales – Cajun and her calf, Pele, and Mostaza.  As we were watching these 4, another whale popped up in the area, and before long, our group of 4 was a group of 5! Perseid, a female, had joined the group. We got very nice close looks at these 5 humpbacks, and the calf was being very active – it did one full breach, and then did a whole lot of flipper slapping and belly-up flipper slapping. We also saw a couple of tail breaches from the calf. At one point, the calf surfaced tail first and did a headstand, which was super fun to watch! As we came back in to Gloucester, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. Great trips today, thanks to our passengers for traveling a bit further out with us to find the whales!

Aug 29, 2:00 trip

August 30th, 2015

From Naturalist Allison

On our afternoon trip we had 4 humpback whales and a whole lot of activity! We started with a pair of humpbacks who were being a bit elusive and surfacing a bit far from us. One of them had a dorsal fin that looked like it had a bite taken out of it! We watched these two for a little but decided it was getting kind of crowded, so we moved off and watched some other humpbacks. These two were not associated, they just happened to be swimming around the same area. After a while we broke off and went back to our original two. We stayed put watching our original two humpbacks when we saw a whole lot of splashing in the distance – a humpback was jumping out of the water many times! We decided to leave our pair and try and go see the breacher, but that didn’t end up happening – as we were starting to make our way towards the breacher, our two humpbacks started breaching! One of them, the one with the piece missing from the dorsal fin, breached over and over again, giving us full spinning breaches and chin breaches. We also got to see some lobtailing, where t

he whale slaps its tail on the surface of the water repeatedly. The other whale with the breacher also breached a couple of times. It was so exciting to see all of this activity. We got great, close looks at all the breaching before we unfortunately ran out of time and had to go back to Gloucester! As we were leaving though, we could still see one of the whales jumping out more! Very cool sightings, breaching definitely doesn’t happen everyday and we were lucky to see so much of it. I was not able to identify the  whales we were watching today.

Aug 29, 9:00 trip

August 29th, 2015

From Naturalist Amy-

The weather was absolutely beautiful and calm this morning as we headed to the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank! We spotted two spouts in the distance and arrived to find Cajun and her calf logging at the surface. The two came closer to the boat and as Cajun continued to log, the calf spy-hopped several times by raising  its rostrum straight out of the water! After a few more minutes, the two continued to rest and we saw a few more blows nearby so traveled a short distance where two whales were slowly traveling. We noticed something interesting on the left back of one of the whales – a satellite tag! We identified the tagged whale as Canopy, and it’s associate as Ase. Canopy was tagged as a part of a study earlier this summer. The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of satellite tags. We were sure to take a few photos of the satellite tag and implant site to share with the researchers. It was so exciting to see an example of the important ongoing research of these amazing whales and to observe Cajun and her calf!

Aug 28

August 29th, 2015

The fog has officially cleared off of Stellwagen Bank.  The weather was perfect for wearing just shorts and a sweatshirt, and in my opinion is the best dress code an employer can require.  Southern Stellwagen treated us to a pod of approximately 50 Atlantic White Sided dolphins.  Atlantic White Sided dolphins are a cold water species of dolphin, and the waters off Massachusetts mark the southern-most part of their range.  Our humpback sightings included Cajun and her calf, traveling with Pele.  We also had two Mola mola’s.

Thanks!

~Laura

Aug 27

August 28th, 2015

Our morning trip took us 29 miles off shore to the Southern part of Stellwagen bank, where we found some familiar tails – Pele, Cajun, and Cajun’s calf. As we approached, we saw a breach! Cajun’s calf had jumped out of the water. As we got a bit closer, we got another back breach. The activity stopped as we moved in closer to the whales, but we still got great looks. It was a very sunny day so we could see right through the water and follow the whales swimming around by looking at the glowing green pectoral flippers – they’re white, but appear green under water because of all the phytoplankton in the water. We did get one more surprise breach from the calf, which I unfortunately missed for pictures! We did get some really close looks at these whales and could see just how huge they are as they swam right up to our starboard side for our last look.

As we were heading towards Stellwagen on the afternoon trip, we got a fabulous surprise. There was splashing ahead, and the consensus from the crew was that it was some Bluefin Tuna hopping around. We approached, and as we got closer – a basking shark jumped clear out of the water! I had never seen that before, it was really an incredible sighting. The shark jumped out of the water 4 times – I did get a picture of the last breach and as promised they’re attached to this blog post! Basking sharks are the second largest shark species in the world, and can reach lengths of 40 feet! Our passengers were very lucky to get a basking shark sighting like that. After the shark excitement, we continued on to just about the same spot we were in the morning and found that Pele, Cajun, and Cajun’s calf were still hanging around together. There were no breaches from whales this afternoon, but very nice looks nonetheless! They came very close, again approaching our Starboard side. We even got a fun rainbow spout from Pele, as the light hit the spout just right and made a rainbow! Very nice trips today, and that basking shark is something I’ll never forget!

Aug 26

August 27th, 2015

We decided to mix things up a little bit today and head up to Jeffreys Ledge.  It was nice to have visibility (for a change), and get away from the heat and humidity on land.  We had one humpback whale, and there was another in the area.  We got some great looks at the animal’s fluke, so hopefully it will be an easy match when comparing it with the catalog of individuals.  NAHWC 0050 DSC_5580

NAHWC 0050 DSC_5571

NAHWC 0050 DSC_5568

We also saw a small pod of harbor porpoise on our way back towards Gloucester.  Captain Dave must have been feeling generous and treated the passengers to a tour of the Annisquam River on our way home.  It was a beautiful evening to pick out our dream house along the river and admire the salt marshes.Marsh DSC_5593

Marsh DSC_5590** This just in- our humpback whale is North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog # 0050, making it the 50th whale to be identified, and it seems this whale was first seen in 1976!

Aug 25

August 25th, 2015

If the wind must blow, I am glad that it was southerly today, as we had to head south to find whales. That meant a bit of a bumpy ride to the whales, but a nice calm ride back home!  After a long trek down the Bank, we finally started to spot some spouts. The first whale was watched was pretty sleepy and that allowed us to get some nice looks at it as it just hung out near the surface.

Nile 2014 calf

We decided to go and check out another spout nearby and as we left, the whale began to breach! So obviously we turned around to watch this whale who was now very awake! We saw many breaches of all sorts and even some flipper slapping as the whale rolled over. Then this young whale, who we later identified as the 2014 calf of Nile, became a bit enamored with the other whale watching boat with us. The whale spyhopped right next to the boat giving the passengers and extremely close view! Sometimes young whales are a bit curious about boats and people.  I just wish we knew what it was thinking!

Nile 2014 calf

We continued on since this whale was clearly busy with the other boat and we spotted another breaching whale in the distance. Of course once we got there the whale stopped breaching, but we did finally get a great look at a tail as this whale, Ouija, dove down in typical humpback whale fashion.

OuijaAfter a few more sightings, and another look at that huge tail, it was time to go home.  The forecasted afternoon thunder storms held off and we had a lovely ride back to Gloucester.

Aug 22

August 23rd, 2015

Despite some gloomy weather and some rough seas, we managed to have two great trips today! Thank you to our hardy passengers for braving the waves. On our morning trip, as we made our way to the southwest corner of Stellwagen, we came across two humpback whales travelling together. Another boat was watching them and we saw two blows just up ahead, so we ended up passing this pair and continuing to the other blows – it was another pair of humpback whales! These whales were being very calm, never even taking a dive. They were spouting and swimming along, and came right up to our starboard side! I was unable to identify these two as they never showed their tails! We then left the pair and made our way to a very familiar group in the area – Pele, Cajun and calf, and Jabiru and calf! This group was pretty curious, coming very close to our boat and swimming all around. Jabiru’s calf was doing some rolling around, and we even got one surprise full breach from Cajun’s calf!

On our afternoon trip we started off with a single unknown adult humpback whale. This whale was seemingly hanging out, swimming around and spouting – until it jumped clear out of the water, surprising us all! Most of the time when passengers see breaching, it’s calves or younger whales – this was a full grown adult humpback – super impressive to see. This whale did this not once, but twice! Another surprise breach – what an excellent sighting. We left this whale after a bit and moved on to the same group that was still scooting around the area – Pele, Cajun and calf, and Jabiru and calf. These whales were being very cooperative, swimming right up to us multiple times. At one point starting from our eleven o’clock position, they swam towards our bow and split off so we had whales swimming down both sides right next to us! Pele even gave us a head breach where it brought its chin out and slapped it on the surface. Great trips!