Aug 9

From Naturalist Hannah

As my season as a Naturalist comes to an end, these whales will never cease to amaze me! Today was full of surprises and turbulence but ended as yet another incredible day on the ocean. We headed out of the harbor with a strong north-eastern wind and very choppy seas but the whales and our crew were up to the challenge, along with some very resilient passengers. After a short drive to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank, we spotted just what we were looking for, the spouts of a large whale! The first animal was a humpback; a medium sized baleen whale and seasonal visitor to the Gulf of Maine. This particular whale has an almost all white fluke with a few black markings as was ID as Mogul. Mogul is a male humpback born in 1986 and a common visitor to this area of Stellwagen Bank. Mogul

We had some great looks at this large humpback but also noticed some white water not too far away and decided to catch up with Mogul again later. The second animal was also a humpback but gave us some more breathtaking looks. As we made our way into the area, we saw a few breaches and some charging behaviors. Once we slowed down, it began tail breaching, where the animal throws its lower half  out of the water. We also had some incredible looks at a lob tailing behavior in which the tail is slammed repeatedly on the surface of the water. The flukes, or tail, looked much different than Mogul and was identified as Doric. Doric is a female that was born in 2001. We were also lucky enough to see a beautiful spinning head breach near our bow. This behavior is the epitome of amazing as the animal launches its 45 ton body out of the water head first then turns mid-air and lands on its back. Doric then continued tail lobbing and came fairly close to our boat. At one point, you could easily follow her through the water by looking for her large white pectoral fins (fins on either side of the body). These fins are the largest of any whale and can reach lengths of 15 feet each!

Doricflipper Doric then began to take a longer dive and head a little south so we decided to catch up with Mogul on our way home as the weather and waves were starting to deteriorate. Mogul gave us some great last looks and we made our turn towards Gloucester. In all we had some awesome looks at two humpback whales with a large variety of aerial displays from Doric!

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