August 17

August 18th, 2016

The seas were a little bumpy today, but that did not get in the way of a great sighting of Cajun, Perseid, and Pele.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the meteor shower last week, which is Perseid’s namesake.  I heard it was phenomenal.  This trio spent our whole trip traveling together, mostly right next to our boat.  We got to spend a little extra time with them because, luckily for us, they have moved a little bit to the north and are just a short trip away from Gloucester.

Tuesday, August 16

August 16th, 2016

Glassy calm seas makes from so awesome whale viewing! We started with a trio of humpbacks who were slowly swimming to the north. We could see their white flippers just below the surface without seeing the whales at all! Then they would break the calm water with a loud blow. Geometry and Cork were traveling with another, unidentified, whale.

Next, we came upon a mother humpback with her 8 month old calf! As we sat waiting for them to return to the surface after a dive, we were surprised when they came up RIGHT NEXT TO US! I’ll admit, the loud sound startled me and I apologize to anyone who may have heard me exclaim an expletive!  Then the calf rolled completely over, a full barrel roll, right next to us!! We could even see its eye! So amazing!  The mom, named Etch-a-Sketch seemed unconcerned that her kid was hanging out right next to a boat. It was really sweet.

Continuing on, after seeing a couple minke whales darting around the area, we found 2 more humpback whales, Cajun and Pele.  We had close looks at them as well when they dove below the boat!

On our way home, we stopped briefly on an ocean sunfish, the largest species of bony fish in the world. This one was a juvenile, only about 2 feet in diameter but still really cool to see!

This afternoon, the wind picked up a bit but the seas remained calm. Cajun and Pele were still together, diving for only a few minutes at a time.

We continued our search and found Piano, a young humpback whale who has had quite the struggle with life. She had been hit by a boat when she was young, and bears the deep scars from the boat’s propeller.  The injury was so bad, it is a miracle she survived. Then a couple years later, she was tangled up in fishing gear and would have perished if she wasn’t rescued by Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Animal Rescue Team.  The damage to her flukes is evidence of her predicament.  Fortunately, she survived both major traumas and appears to be doing well.

On our way home, we came upon Cajun and Pele once again. After a few nice views of this pair, we decided to head for home as the rain was starting.   The wind is  supposed to pick up tonight so we’ll see what tomorrow brings!

Monday, Aug 15

August 16th, 2016

From Naturalist Beth:

AM: Cajun and Pele were hanging on the NW corner again this morning, continuing to deep feed. We were lucky to see this pair surface close to the boat. We also saw a mola mola, a species I haven’t seen in a long time. The fish stayed at the surface and allowed us to get great close looks.

PM: In the afternoon we traveled to Stellwagen Bank and found 5 different humpback whales in the area, three new whales had moved in during the afternoon. We saw plenty of fish in the water. We started our trip with Cajun and Pele traveling. The other three humpback whales were traveling around individually. We only got a close look at Komodo, the other two whales were taking longer dives and surfacing far from the boat.

Sunday, Aug 14

August 16th, 2016

From Naturalist Beth:

AM: It was a great morning to be out on the water, we found whales on the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank. We started off our trip with Cajun and Pele deep feeding. Cajun and Pele surfaced right next to the boat, Cajun swam right under us, we got some amazing looks at her whole body. We moved on to watch Etch-a-Sketch and calf. When we first arrived Etch-a-Sketch was flipper slapping and breaching, but stopped to start traveling with her calf. At the end of the trip, we got to see the calf nurse before heading back to Gloucester.

PM: This afternoon we traveled to the NW corner again and found Cajun and Pele milling around. Unfortunately, there were multiple recreational boats in the area. We took a ride out to the east and found two minke whales and finished our trip with a few more looks at Cajun and Pele.

Wed, August 10

August 10th, 2016

This morning we found humpback whale, Komodo, who was tail breaching and tail-lobbing!  We then saw Etch-a-Sketch and her calf nearby so we watched them for a bit. Also in the area were 4 fin whales, 3 of which were feeding together! One of these whales was Ladder (also seen yesterday). Ladder has a distinctive scar on his right side- the result of a collision with a boat. Also in this trio was a whale with an even larger propeller scar on its left side!  I’m not sure we’ve seen this whale before!  Minke whales were also darting all over, and the shearwaters numbered in the 100’s again!

This afternoon, the wind and seas picked up rather quickly, making for a bumpy ride to Stellwagen Bank. The rain wasn’t helping the situation, but fortunately we were rewarded by an incredible trip!  We first stopped on some fin whales that were cruising around the area, feeding. One even lifted its flukes out of the water- extremely rare for a fin whale!! Then we headed over to a humpback whale who was doing a lot of splashing. This was Komodo again and this afternoon this active whale had a hard time staying in the ocean! Breach after breach after breach! It was an incredible sight to see.  Komodo also did some flipper slapping, even while belly-up!  So much fun!  Fin whales and minkes were in the area as well while we anxiously awaited more aerial activity from Komodo. As we were heading home, we passed by some more fin whales and then we spotted a breaching minke whale! I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen 2 different species of whales breaching during the same trip!  So incredible to see this “small” 25-foot whale leap out of the ocean like a missile.  Such and amazing day on the Atlantic Ocean.

Tuesday, August 9

August 9th, 2016

All sorts of variety on the Bank today! The birds are out in force. We had 100’s of shearwaters (great, Cory’s, sooty), Wilson’s storm petrels, common terns, a fulmar and some other unidentified small gulls.  For whales: minkes, fins and humpbacks were not too far from Gloucester!  For me, the coolest part of the morning trip was seeing 4 HUGE fin whales side by side, one of whom was our friend, and adoptable whale, named Ladder!

This afternoon, we found some humpbacks that we hadn’t seen during the morning trip including Fulcrum, bearing the scars of a boat strike a while back, and a mother and calf pair. The calf was quite active, breaching several times!! So much fun.  Then we saw Fulcrum kick-feeding, a relatively new behavior in the humpback world and coming up through the bubble cloud with her mouth wide open!   18 different humpback whales were recorded in the area! We also had at least 6 fin whales, all hanging out in pairs! Minke whales were scooting through as well. Such an amazing day with wildlife!

Trip Summaries from Beth K

August 9th, 2016

Sorry for the delay! Here are the summaries of the trips from naturalist Beth K this week!

8/2 Tuesday:

PM: We traveled out to Stellwagen Bank, the weather was nice! We stopped on UFO traveling to start the trip. We watched Tongs and Perseid deep feeding together. Aswan and Shards were also in the area.

8/3 Wednesday:

AM: We had about 12-15 whales in the area, we watched about 10 whales in various groups open mouth feeding. We saw Cajun, Jabiru, UFO, Perseid, Aswan, Salt and calf, Tear, Fern, Nuages, and Elephant. Great close looks, whales feeding next to the boat.

PM: We went to a different area of Stellwagen and found one unknown whale traveling. We moved further to the east and found a group Echo and calf, Epee, and Firefly deep feeding together. We had great close looks of the whales surging to the surface, swimming under the boat.

8/6 Saturday:

AM: The whales were on the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank. We had great close looks at Pele and Bristle traveling together. Cajun and Draco were deep feeding together. We ended the trip with close looks at Tornado and calf, A Plus, and Perseid traveling together. We saw 2-3 minke whales too.

PM: In the afternoon, we started with Pele and Bristle traveling together. Cajun and Draco were also in the area. We moved on to watch Tornado and calf, A Plus, and Perseid deep feeding together. There were probably another 5 humpbacks in the area we didn’t get to see. We ended the trip with an unknown whale flipper slapping for 25 minutes. The whale rolled over next to the bow and kept traveling under our boat. Amazing looks!

8/7 Sunday:

AM: This morning the whales were close! We started the trip with Tornado and calf. We moved on to an area right on the corner  with 10 whales milling around and deep feeding. We saw Milkweed, Cajun, Perseid, Jabiru, Pele, and Bristle. We ended the trip watching Gladiator filter feeding and blowing bubbles with Shards. Gladiator moved on to feed with Piano as well. We got great looks at side lunging behavior and the whale’s pleats.

July 28

August 5th, 2016

This morning we started out our trip with a quick look at a fin whale and then moved further down the bank to find a trio of humpback whales – Pele, Perseid, and Jabiru. We got great looks at the trio and then moved on to a brief sighting of another humpback in the area that turned out to be UFO, a young whale born in 2013 that was just given a name this year. We also had a nice sighting of some minke whales where we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by 4 of these “little” whales. On our way back home we came across Pele and Perseid again. Jabiru was nearby, but was no longer associated with the other two humpbacks.

It was quite windy for our afternoon trip, but we pressed on down the bank to come across Perseid traveling with another unidentified whale. The other whale left the association with Perseid shortly after we arrived, so we spent most of our time in the beginning with Perseid. We then moved on and got some looks at UFO again before again coming back to where we left Perseid, but she wasn’t alone this time. Perseid had met up with Jabiru and the two gave us amazing looks. The direction of the wind today brought the exhalations from Jabiru and Perseid right to our boat, giving passengers on board a nice sniff of some very memorable whale breath! Surface activity picked up as we continued to watch the pair, with Perseid giving us a tail breach. All of the sudden Jabiru became very active and began tail breaching, lob tailing, belly-up lob tailing, and flipper slapping! It was wonderful seeing all of this surface behavior, and Jabiru even gave us one full breach just as we were getting ready to leave. As we moved out of the area, we could still see Jabiru continuing to flipper slap far in the distance. Who knows how long she kept it up!

August 1

August 2nd, 2016

The first trip out today took us all the way offshore of Provincetown Cape Cod, MA. The long trip out was well worth it. We spent the day with a variety of humpback whales. The first pair we came across was Crystal and Blackhole. We then ventured on to a larger group of humpbacks. We started with Pele who was associating with another humpback whale. They both joined three other humpback whales to make a group of six. We spent the rest of the morning with this group who would split up occasionally and join back together. The rest of the whales included Venom plus her calf and Crisscross. The whales were moving rather fast but the passengers got some great close up looks at them.

The afternoon trip did not take us quite as far as Provincetown but we had a three species trip. We ended up seeing six minke whales. We saw one minke whale actively surface feeding, giving us a nice glance at its white underside. We also saw four finback whales, two of which we spent a good amount of time watching. We even saw half of the finback’s fluke at one point which is very rare. We believe it was a mom and a calf pair that we spent most of our time with. We also spent a great deal of time with a mom and a calf humpback whale. The calf was tail lobbing and even did a full breach at one point. After a three species trip, we headed back to Gloucester harbor with some very satisfied passengers.

July 31

August 1st, 2016

Today’s whale watch was one for the books! An incredible look at some of the world’s more magnificent creatures: the humpback whale. On both trips today there were hundreds of pelagic birds such as cory shearwaters, greater shearwaters and wilson storm petrel.

This morning’s whale watch we had some great open mouth surface feeding very close to the boat. One whale came up just feet from our bow giving us some amazing looks at the size of it’s baleen and lower jaw. There were at least 7 whales bubble feeding at once. Some of the most amazing views of feeding I have ever seen! We also spent some time with a mother and calf pair. Some of the whales we saw were: Centipede, Treasure, Lace and calf, Ravine and calf, Elephant, Gladiator, Baja, Nuages, Daffodil and Ursa.

Our afternoon trip was also a huge success having 20+ whales in the area and seeing flipper slapping, tail slapping, surface feeding, a tail breach, and even a full spinning head breach. A few whales surfaced close to the boat but really anywhere you turned your head you could spot a whale. We even ran into a other and calf pair on the way back in. Some of the individuals on the afternoon trip were: Joy, Lavalier, Pinpoint, Centipede, Daffodil, Echo and calf, Pele, Jabiru, Cajun, Indiana and Farfalle.

Overall a beautiful day on Stellwagen Bank, with calm seas and lake conditions at some points!