TONS of WHALES Yesterday!

Blog post from Naturalist Diana from Wed 7/9/2014:

What an incredible day on the ocean! Calm seas, cool breezes, and “tons” of whales all around us! The best part- they were really close to Gloucester, making our travel time really quick! Both the morning and afternoon trips were awesome today with over 20 humpback whales each, although we saw different individual whales on each trip. The morning trip also found 5 or so minke whales and a small group of Bluefin tuna.

Feeding was apparent throughout the day as the humpbacks were lob-tail feeding, blowing bubble nets and surfacing with their mouths wide open.  Chin-breaching, tail-breaching, mother and calf pairs, barrel rolls, flippers in the air…we saw it all!   At one point this afternoon, I just took a step back to watch the sheer number of spouts all around us.  It looked like we were surrounded by a picket fence of white spouts. Yes, these whales are endangered, but you wouldn’t have guessed that today! Humpback whales were out in force, feeding on sand eels which were also being snatched up by thousands of gulls and hundreds of shearwaters (Great, Sooty, Corys). Not a good day to be a sand eel!

But as we watched these incredible animals feed, I was again reminded of all the hazards they face on a daily basis. Many of the whales we saw showed evidence (scars) of prior entanglements (presumably in fishing gear), boat collisions and even killer whale attacks. Although these endangered whales are protected from hunting in most parts of the world, other human factors as well as natural predators certainly take their toll. Fortunately all the whales we saw today can be considered the lucky ones- just bearing the scars of their prior encounters, but still going strong.

Can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow to see what Mother Nature decides to show us!

Photos from the 9:00 trip:

Iris IMG_4991

Humpback named Iris

Pele poss IMG_4881

Filtering water

sandeels jumping IMG_5035

Can you see the sandeels jumping out of the whales mouth?

Gumdrop sm IMG_4950

Lots of scarring along the flukes

Photos from the 2:00 PM Trip:

Cat eyes IMG_5185

Humpback whale named Cat Eyes

feeding sm IMG_5161

Wide open mouth!

barnacle scars sm IMG_5275

Check out all those round circles on the whale’s chin- these are from barnacles (REALLY big barnacles!)

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