July 19

From Naturalist Hannah

What a day! As usual, we started the day off by taking a guess and heading to the Northwest Corner of Stellwagen Bank. There were whales spotted there the previous day so we decided to take a chance a hope that they stuck close to the area over night. As we passed the first location and nothing was spotted, we continued south toward the southwest corner of the bank. We had luck and located a single spout. Immediately, we knew that the whale was Cygnus, due to his mangled dorsal fin. Positive identification can be made many different ways and it just so happens that this whale was better know by its dorsal fin rather than the pattern on the underside of the fluke (and how most other whales are identified.) To our joy and surprise, another whale popped up near Cygnus after it returned to the surface. This was Exclaim and it is a whale that was born in 1997. Exclaim not only has a recognizable pattern on the fluke (or tail) but also has a large portion missing from the left side of the tail. Fortunately, Exclaim is still able to swim correctly and seems to be doing well this year. We watched the pair synchronize their dive and surface intervals for a while longer and then decided to continue on with the trip because another spout had been located.

Once we were on the new whale, we were able to identify it as Reaper, who was born in 1987 and has given birth to four calves. Reaper  was exhibiting some great behavior including bubble cloud feeding and a vertical lunge feed. Both techniques are unique to humpback whales and work quite well considering that the whales need to eat about 1 million calories every single day during the summer. After few good looks, we decided to make our turn back to Gloucester. This morning trip was memorable and a humbling example of how quickly things chance in the wild.

The afternoon trip was one for the books. We started out by heading to the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank just north of Provincetown, MA. We first came across 2 uncooperative humpbacks that did not show us their tails at all! Before we left, this duo formed a trio and they continued on their day. We came across another pair that were ID’ed as Coral and Centipede. Both whales were traveling next to each other so again, we got some great looks. Finally, we came across an insane group of humpbacks. The groups were small duos and trios but after about 15 minutes, these groups congregated into a large mass. A calf also added to the excitement because it was tail breaching a few times near the boat. It was a treat to experience such an amazing creature flinging its body around with little rhyme or reason. As we watched the group increase in size, we realized that we were literally surrounded by whales! It was an breathtaking experience. Calderas is a whale that was a part of the group and did a great job of hanging near the boat so we could get some great looks. We ended the trip with a single whale heading toward the now ever growing group. We truly are guests into their world and today, they welcomed us with open flippers!

Hope to see you soon!

One Response to “July 19”

  1. Richard Ferry Says:

    AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME Hannah and a special thanks to the Capt. Bill’s crew for staying out so long (5 hrs). Most amazing whale watch ever and we have been on many including in Alaska. We will recommend to friends and be back again.