August 16- 2:00 trip

This afternoon we headed out to Provincetown off the tip of Cape Cod where we found nine individual humpback whales! We started off the trip with Habanero and her 2015 calf. Habanero was born in 2000, and this is her third calf so far.

Our second sighting brought us to another pair of humpback whales, however, this time instead of being a mom and calf pair, we had two adult whales in our pair. I identified one of the whales as Gladiator, but I did not have an identification for the whale Gladiator was with because the second whale never showed its tail. However, I was going through my photos and noticed I snapped a few shots of when one of the whales rolled over on its side for a brief moment. Based on that shot, I was able to identify the second humpback as A-Plus! A-Plus’s tail actually has a marking that says “A+”, which is why I was able to identify it with such a small tail shot.

After getting some great looks at Gladiator and A-Plus, we moved on to some more blows which turned out to be five more humpbacks. This grouping had two mom and calf pairs in it – Cajun and her calf, and Jabiru and her calf. The fifth whale was Pele. Cajun, Jabiru, Pele, and the two calves have been doing an awful lot of hanging out together lately which is interesting. Humpback whale associations are not very well understood, so it is interesting that these five whales have been spending long periods of time together. Even though I didn’t get tail shots from this group, sometimes dorsal fins and scars alone are enough to identify a whale. Pele’s dorsal fin has a lot of white marks on it that look like teeth marks, perhaps from an orca whale. Humpbacks will sometimes get attacked by orcas when they are younger. Jabiru also has a scar on her back from a satellite tag that she used to have on her, which is another helpful identifying feature.

We got really awesome, close looks at these five whales, but we also saw something very upsetting, as a small boat was dragging fishing gear through the water directly next to this group of whales. Entanglements in fishing gear is a major threat to whales, and it was really sad to see five humpback whales so close to people who were completely disregarding the whales’ safety.

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