Wed, June 27, 2018

June 27th, 2018

From Naturalist Beth:

This morning we made our way to Jeffreys Ledge, just before the southern end of the ledge we found about 10 different humpback whales! Some of our favorites from yesterday were still in the area, Spoon and calf, Wigwam and calf, and Pinball (who is adoptable!).

Pinball

We also spotted a male humpback whale named Sedge. Spoon and her calf were hanging just beneath the surface for close to a half hour. The pair passed underneath our boat multiple times. Spoon turned on her side a brought her flipper clear out of the water, giving us a great look!

Spoon's flipper

Wigwam and her calf were traveling through the area, Wigwam’s calf rolled belly up at the surface right next to our boat! We ended our trip with great looks at Pinball. Great day out on the water!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 27th, 2018

From Naturalist Beth:

Today was such an amazing day out on the water, I don’t even know where to begin! We left Gloucester Harbor on our way to Jeffrey’s Ledge but quickly found Scylla, the humpback whale, only 4 miles outside of the harbor. She surfaced regularly right next to the boat, staying up for multiple breaths. Right nearby we spotted a large school of mackerel, definitely the reason why Scylla chose that spot this morning. It was amazing to see her with the Cape Ann shoreline in the background.

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A harbor seal popped up right next to our boat too, likely looking to grab a mackerel snack as well. About 6 miles away we found 6 MORE humpback whales. We started with Spoon and her calf logging. While they were snoozing, we were able to get some quiet, amazing looks at the pair. Wigwam and her calf weren’t far away, this pair was much more active. The calf engaged in surface behavior for about 45 minutes. Flipper slapping, rolling belly up, back breaching, and tail breaching. The calf even swam right by our boat, giving us a close look. It was hard to tell who was watching who.

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Nine and Pinball were also in the area, bringing our total up to 7 different humpback whales. 2-3 minke whales passed through the area as well. The perfect weather made the day even better. One of the best days we’ve had so far this season!

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June 23, 2018

June 24th, 2018

From Naturalist Beth:

This morning we traveled to the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank and found Nine, a female humpback whale, feeding. She surfaced right next to the boat filtering out the saltwater. About 5 miles away we found Dross and her calf, the calf is very independent already. It was breached multiple times right next to the boat while mom fed about a 1/2 mile away. It was amazing to watch this young whale engage in surface active behavior.

This afternoon we decided to travel towards the southern end of Jeffrey’s Ledge. We had some reports in the area and wanted to see what else we could find out on the water today. We lucked out! We had a pod of about 50-75 dolphins traveling with two fin whales. It’s always amazing to see two different species interact with each other. The Atlantic white-sided dolphin surfaced right under our bow and the fin whales right next to the boat. About 3 miles away we found Pinball, the humpback whale. One of our “adopt-a-whales!” She’s a 29-year-old female who we look forward to seeing year after year. She was feeding and traveled right underneath our bow. We got some amazing looks at an old favorite! Great day!

June 22, 2018

June 24th, 2018

From Naturalist Beth

Today we traveled just south of the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank. There we found 3 different humpback whales. We started off our trip with incredible close looks at Shuffleboard feeding right next to the boat. She gave us a surprise first look, surging to the surface with her mouth wide open! We also watched Measles and Nine feeding in the area as well. All three females gave us some impressive looks at the classic humpback whale bubble feeding technique. It was a great day out on the water!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 21st, 2018

From Naturalist Laura

Whale watching out of Gloucester allows the captain and naturalist to be indecisive, then decide, then change their minds, decide, and change their minds over and over again.  Gloucester is positioned between Jeffreys Ledge to the north and Stellwagen Bank to the south, so we can contemplate until we are well out of the harbor what feeding ground to go to.  Today we started toward Stellwagen, then hung a left turn towards Jeffreys (saw a minke), and then took a right to head back towards Stellwagen to find 3 humpbacks (including Dross and calf), a gray seal, and a large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins.  The weather was beautiful, so the passengers didn’t seem to mind our zigzagging trackline, plus they were treated to great whales at the end of it!

Wed, June 20, 2018

June 21st, 2018

From Naturalist Beth:

Today we traveled to the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank. There we found Dross and her calf. The calf was very independent throughout the beginning of the trip, spending time about a 1/4 mile away from Dross. The pair eventually surfaced together as mom began to feed. It was amazing to watch the pair interact with each other. We also got a few looks at a minke whale passing through the area. Dross and her calf surfaced right next to the boat at the end of the trip, we were able to get some amazing close looks and truly appreciate the size difference. It was a great day out on the water!

Monday, June 18, 2018

June 20th, 2018

From Naturalist Laura

Things were a little bumpy on Stellwagen Bank today, but that did not prevent us from tremendous sightings.  Shuffleboard seems like she hasn’t stopped feeding since we left her yesterday; time spent building up that blubber layer is time well spent!  We tried to follow Dross and calf for a bit, but the building sea state resulted in diminishing returns with every surfacing.  None the less, it was a good day to be offshore, watching whales, and out of the heat.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 20th, 2018

From Naturalist Laura:

Days like today are the reason I love my job.  We spent most of the day with Bilbo (aka Spoon) and her calf.  In my experience, Bilbo is good at two things in life, staying down on long dives and sleeping, and we saw both of those things today.  But, while Bilbo was otherwise occupied her calf was spending plenty of time at the surface: breaching, rolling, and flipper slapping.  We also got to watch Shuffleboard kick feeding – slamming her tail down on the surface before feeding in bubble clouds.  All of this is to say nothing of the half a dozen minkes and the handful of grey seals that we saw, as well.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

June 17th, 2018

From Naturalist Beth:

This morning we traveled to the southern end of Jeffrey’s Ledge and found lots of wildlife! We spotted a total of four minke whales throughout the trip. One minke whale surfacing right next to the boat! We also spent time with two humpback whales, Gondolier and Clamp, feeding separately in the area. We also saw a variety of pelagic bird species, including great shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, and a few wilson’s storm petrels.

Gondolier

Gondolier

Clamp

Clamp

This afternoon we arrived on southern Jeffrey’s Ledge and started our trip with amazing looks at a minke whale! It was so calm you could see the white patches on the whale’s flippers. We affectionately call those patches “minke mittens.” About a mile away we spotted a large fin whale milling around the area. We were lucky to see this whale so close. Clamp, the humpback whale, was traveling through the area, but Gondolier stole the show today with an unexpected full breach right in front of our boat! He then spent time milling around our boat. It was a great afternoon on the water!

Minke whale

Minke whale

Fin whale blowholes!

Fin whale blowholes!

Fin whale

Fin whale

Humpback whale, Gondolier

Gondolier

Friday, June 15, 2018

June 15th, 2018

From Naturalist Laura:

Day by day the whales have been moving around, which keeps life interesting, but also a bit stressful when you’re the naturalist trying to find the whales for the trip!  Today, we ended up a little bit south of Jeffreys Ledge, where we were treated to a three species day.  We started with a fin whale, and a handful of minke whales, but quickly moved on to find the humpback whales known as Clamp and Gondolier.  They were not together, per se, but likely feeding in the same area due to a large abundance of prey.  We could see quite a bit of bait on the surface, and the whales were both blowing bubbles, which are both signs of feeding beneath the surface.  Hopefully, these two stick around for a few days.