July 30

From Naturalist Allison

It was a hot day on land today! Luckily, it was beautiful off shore, despite a little bit of fog/haze in the morning. We travelled for about an hour and 40 minutes before coming across a fin whale – the second largest animal to ever live on the planet! Unfortunately, our fin whale was less than cooperative, and we only got to see it for a few moments. We then moved along, passing another fin whale, and finally found a group of five humpback whales! I was able to identify 4 out of the 5 whales in this group – we had Nile, a familiar fluke on Stellwagen bank born in 1987, as well as Pitcher, Hippocampus, and Samara. Pitcher, Hippocampus, and Samara are all pretty young whales, all having been born in 2007 or 2008. The fifth whale I was unable to identify as it only low fluked once.

This group was all together when we first arrived, at one point all hanging out just under the surface giving us fantastic looks! This group shortly separated into a group of 3 and a group of 2. We stayed on the group of 3 for a little bit, which consisted of Nile, Pitcher, and Hippocampus. However, we saw that our other two, Samara and the unknown whale, were putting on quite the show not too far away! We approached them and were treated to many different behaviours! Samara was tail breaching constantly, and even surprised us with two back breaches, where the whale launches its body about halfway out of the water and lands on its back with a thunderous crash. The other unknown whale (who appeared to be much smaller than Samara and may be a juvenile animal) with Samara was doing all sorts of flipper slapping! This whale was slapping its massive pectoral flippers on the surface of the water over and over again, even doing some flipper slapping belly-up! The whales were continuously doing these behaviors the whole time we were watching them, and it was with great reluctance that we realized we were out of time and would have to leave these fun whales. They seemed to settle down a bit and rest as we eased out of their area and made our way back to shore, but it really was a marvelous encounter with these amazing animals.

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