It is trips like the ones we have been having lately that every whale watcher hopes for. I think most people would agree that is well worth the ride. When there are this many whales in one area it allows us the opportunity to be a little bit picky about which behaviors we stop by to observe. Today we started on a group of humpbacks that were doing some bubble net feeding. Then a little ways away we saw a whale doing some pec slaps and full body breaching! We ended the trip on a whale named Etch-A-Sketch who never allows for a boring whale watch. I’m pretty sure every time I have seen this whale it is furiously kicking away at the surface only to come up with a huge open mouth full of food. Etch definitely isn’t a shy whale either. More often than not, this feeding happens a couple dozen yards from the vessel. The best part about trips like this is that no matter where you are on the boat, there is something happening near by.
There were about 7 hungry humpbacks on southern Stellwagen today. Even in some pretty thick fog, we spent our trip with a large association of whales that were using bubble nets right next to the boat to trap the sand eels. The sea was boiling with all of the bait in the area, and the whales were definitely taking advantage. Some of the individuals we had were Canopy, Centipede, Bounce and Mostaza.
Another exciting day on southern Stellwagen. The whales were slightly closer to home today. When we first got to the area where there were at least 20 humpbacks, you could see the focus was on feeding. The bubble nets were floating to the surface in all directions, the birds were going crazy and whales were surfacing on all sides of the boat. We started by watching one group of 3 adult humpbacks and one calf surface feeding right next to the boat. The mom was a whale named Anchor (interestingly, we spotted one of Anchor’s calf from a previous year, Snare, in the area as well), and she was feeding with Fracture. The last one never fluked, so we were not able to get an ID. As we were watching the feeding, a large splash caught the eye of the captain a short ways away; so we decided to investigate. A whale named Bowline was engaged in almost every surface behavior that humpback whales are capable of. We saw all kinds of breaching, lob tailing, and pec slapping. What was most interesting about this was as soon as this surface behavior began, it seemed that most of the feeding behavior stopped, and all of the whales in the area switched gears and were surface active, like Bowline. Very exciting for everyone on board!
We had a FANTASTIC close to boat experience with Sanchal today! She was all over the boat: looking at us and rolling over. Her eye was wide open most of the time! Pictures will be coming soon. It was truly a day that I will never forget!
What an incredible day! It was one of those that you only have once a year if you are lucky! We traveled to the southern part of Stellwagen Bank to see at least 20 humpbacks! We saw literally almost everything that you could possibly see on a whale watch. We saw bubble nets and kick feeding. There was one mother calf pair around; the calf was tail breaching and lobtailing. It’s so fun to watch the little calves (only 4-5 months old) trying to do surface behaviors. This one was fairly coordinated, and the one breach it did was a full spinning head breach. This little guy or gal had practiced quite a bit. We never got a good look at the mom, so unfortunately we aren’t sure who it was. While watching the calf, we saw Alphorn and Springboard. We finished up the trip on Sanchal, the 2008 calf of Salt. She was flipper slapping in the distance, and when we got there, she decided to check us out. It was the best close to boat I have had in a few years. The water was so calm, she was all over the boat, and it lasted about twenty minutes. She was belly up and looking at us with eyes wide open. It’s such an amazing experience to have a wild animal so curious! Truly an experience I hope will never be forgotten by the passengers today. What a wonderful group of people to share the day with. Thank you for your excitement and awe! Till tomorrow…I wish you pleasant dreams of whales. ~Cynde
One of my favorite aspects of spring time (aside from welcoming the whales back to New England) is seeing the Northern gannets! I was at the naturalists workshop in Provincetown this year, and we go to the beaches every day to look for whales. Each year there are hundreds of gannets feeding right off the beach. What an incredible sight! They are migrating up from the southern waters off Florida and the Caribbean and heading to Newfoundland to breed. Massachusetts is like a rest area for them. They stop here to feed on the small fish. Flying 100 feet above the water, you can watch them looking for fish. Once they find some, they drop out of the sky, tuck their wings into their body and dive into the ocean. Upon coming up the surface, they grab fish. These birds are the largest member of the booby family, and we see feeding frenzies similar to the ones that you see on Blue Planet! It is such an amazing sight!!