October 15

Today we had to make a long trek down to the southern end of Stellwagen Bank. Although it was a long ride, the whales were definitely worth it! We found a pod of harbor porpoises as we neared the larger whales.  These “toothed whales” were pretty cooperative. Usually, as soon as I point them out, they will go down on us, so I was psyched to watch them stay up for so long!  Then we spotted some blows of larger baleen whales. In addition to the 9 humpback whales we found, we also had 2 minke whales in the same area!  Humpback and minke whales feed on the same types of small fish (sand eels, herring, mackerel, etc.) as do many sea birds such as the dozens of gulls and shearwaters also in the area.Image00007

At first we saw 2 pairs of humpbacks. The closest was Tornado and her newest calf. The other pair was a bit further off.  We continued on to find a trio of humpbacks- another mom (Abrasion) and her calf along with Whirlygig (whose mom is Pinball, one of my favorite whales and who is adoptable through the Blue Ocean Society!). These whales were feeding- blowing rings of bubbles around some fish and then surfacing right in the middle of the bubbles with their mouths wide open. In the meantime, we could see some of the sand eels attempting to escape the gaping jaws of the humpbacks, only to be picked up by the gulls and shearwaters! Not a good day to be a sand eel!

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All of a sudden, Tornado’s active calf came into the area with the trio. Tornado eventually showed up to join the feeding frenzy.Image00143

Another pair of humpbacks was seen nearby and soon joined the group of 5. These 2 newcomers were Fray and Hippocampus!  We really had some amazing views of 5 adult humpback whales charging through a cloud of bubbles while Tornado’s calf seemingly occupied herself by tail lobbing, tail breaching, flipper slapping and even doing a couple of complete breaches while her mom and the other adults fed.Image00269

This afternoon was a day of excitement and also learning as all of the whale activity we were seeing was being documented in an attempt to learn more about the cultural and social lives of whales. We saw some interesting things this afternoon, and hope to investigate further on these this winter.Image00282

In addition to the fantastic whale watch, we also were treated to a beautiful sunset over Boston and Cape Ann, and for those of you who stuck around a bit longer, the full moon rose to the east in an absolutely beautiful, clear sky.  We just never know how each day will turn out and today was impressive on all ends!

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