Monday, October 11, 2010
12:oo Whale Watch Trip - Krill
The winds were out of the Northwest, but were lighter than what we have been dealing with over the past few days. This created a fabulous day offshore with clear skies and a relatively low sea state.
As we headed towards Stellwagen Bank, we decided to check out the middle part of the bank, for this is were we had sightings the day before. We never know where or when we are going to have our first sighting, but it makes sense to start looking where you left off the day before. Unfortunately, we were not able to find any whales as we crossed onto Stellwagen Bank so we continued our journey to the east, but headed a bit more south.
Close to the SE corner of Stellwagen Bank, we picked up a pair of humpback whales. This pair included an adult female called Zeppelin and a second whale that we were not able to identify. Zeppelin and friend were swimming to the NW in a slow and steady pace. Not sure what destination they had in mind, but they did surface right off the port side of the boat once giving our passengers a fabulous look at these very endangered animals.
As we watched this pair, we noticed that Zeppelin has a healed cut through her dorsal fin. This cut is probably the result of Zeppelin getting entangled in some type of fishing gear. Zeppelin is no worse for the ware. but these types of scars remind us of the dangers that humpbacks face on a day-to-day basis when they feed in our waters offshore.
We stayed with this pair for over 20 minutes and decided it was time to move on. As we slowly moved away, we kept our eyes on this pair which was off our stern. All of a sudden, we saw Zeppelin breach tail first out of the water. We often see the whales get a bit more active as we depart an area. Not sure what that means, but it reminds us to always keep our eyes sharp off the stern whenever we leave a sighting. And it reminds us to go slow for it is unclear how our actions impact these animals.
After leaving this pair, we passed a small flock of manx shearwaters resting on the water's surface. Manx shearwaters are a petite looking shearwater and not often seen in the waters of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. We also had good looks at Northern gannets, another seabird that comes to feed in our productive waters offshore.
We picked up a second pair of humpback whales that were logging or resting at the water's surface. We were only able to identify one individual in this pair and that whale is a male named Crystal. Crystal is born in 1980 to a whale named Salt. We believe that Crystal is Salt's first calf out of a long line of siblings. Salt is the first whale ever to receive a named and she has been sighted feeding in our waters every year except one since 1976. Salt is offshore this season with her 12th known calf, named Zelle.
After leaving Crystal and the unknown whale, we headed back to Plymouth Harbor. As we docked the boat, passengers noticed a seal surfacing close to the Town Wharf. This turned out to be a harbor seal which is a common species in our area. So a wonderful day offshore with whales, seabirds, sea ducks and seal!