9 am Whale Watch - Krill
For the morning trip, we spent most of our time on the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank.
Our first sighting were two very large humpback whales that were logging (resting) at the surface. We were able to identify these whales as two mom's who have had calves in the past but neither animal has a calf this season. Looking at the black & white tail pattern, we were able to identify these "off-season" moms as Trident and Crown. After a few minutes, we slowly moved away from this resting pair for we noticed a big splash to the north of our position.
In the distance, we watched a humpback whale jump (breach) out of the water. This whale did a series of chin breaches and then spinning head breaches. As we got closer to this animal, it started flippering right next to the boat (see image above).
Our captain put the engines in neutral as the whale swam under the boat and then around the vessel. After being treated to a very special close approach, the animal moved away from our boat and started logging at the surface. One thing I have learned from working offshore for many years is that much of the success related to wildlife viewing has a lot to do with luck. And today, we were definitely in the right place at the right time!
As we moved away from this whale, two more whales started breaching to the east of us. As we approached, this pair also settled down and started logging. One of the humpbacks had a cut in the tip of the dorsal fin and might have been a humpback whale named Pipette. But since neither whale fluked out when diving deep, we were unable to confirm this ID.
2 pm Whale Watch - Krill
For the 2 pm trip, we headed a bit more to the east where we had lots of bait (see image above) at the surface and lots of open mouth feeding. The first whale that was sighted is a female whale named Firefly. Firefly was surface feeding using bubble nets and bubble clouds. After watching Firefly feeding around the boat, we moved off and picked up a mother and calf pair who turned out to be Reflection and her calf. Mom was kick feeding and then diving under the bait to produce bubble clouds and bubble nets. The calf seemed to be following mom, watching her every move. It almost looked as if the calf was getting a lesson in filter feeding from Reflection!
Our third sighting was a humpback whale named Pixar who was also kick feeding with bubble nets and open mouth lunges. Our passengers could see the baleen hanging down from the upper jaw as the whale lunged right next to the boat.
We ended our trip with a bang, as we watched Nile and her calf of this year breaching out of the water. Both mom and calf did a series of spinning head breaches. It just took your breath away! Who needs fireworks when you have two whales breaching next to the boat!
We observed many seabirds offshore who were feeding or resting close to where the whales were feeding. We were able to identify Wilson's storm petrels, greater shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, Northern gannets (juveniles) and one Northern Fulmar. Earlier in the day, out intern Ian identified a number of jaegers as well.