Sunday, May 8, 2011
12 noon Whale Watch - Krill
Today we had a beautiful day offshore. Clear blue skies and relatively low seas made for a fabulous ride out to Stellwagen Bank. At the helm was Captain Sean, and today was his first whale watch trip of the season.
As we headed west, we spotted a large cluster of balloons flying low over the water. As we approached the balloons, we watched them fall into the water just off our starboard bow. Our fearless crew members, Ron and Rich, jumped into action and worked with our captain to pick up this cluster of balloons in one swell swoop.
Thanks guys for helping to keep our oceans clean! Marine debris like balloons are one of the biggest hazards to any kind of marine wildlife. Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours is very concerned about the health of our oceans and helps to keep them free of debris whenever possible.
We continued to the west and crossed over the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Here we saw lots of small fishing boats anchored on the corner in less than 65 feet of water. Many of the boats were pulling in their catch that included striped bass and haddock. Our waters are very productive not just for the whales, seals and seabirds, but also for humans who enjoy fishing just as much as the wildlife.
We saw a number of seabirds including Northern gannets. We even had a quick glimpse of one razorbill flying low over the water. And we had a nice cluster of common terns fly by the boat. All good indicators of productive and healthy waters.
As we crossed over the bank, we saw blows a few miles to the west. As we approached, we realized that we had two finback whales feeding deep on the bank. Finbacks are the second largest cetacean in the world and have the reputation of being the fastest whale around. Their nickname is the "greyhounds of the ocean."
The finbacks we were watching approached our boat and then dove 100 yards off the starboard bow. This gave our passengers a chance to see just how sleek and streamlined this species truly is.
As we continued to the west, we picked up a single humpback whale slowly moving with the southeast swell. Krill was able to identify this whale as a male named Sword. Sword was given this name by whale researchers for the sword mark on the right side of his ventral fluke. Captain Sean skillfully maneuvered the boat so all our passengers could get an amazing look at this endangered whale.
We had time for one more sighting before heading home and this turned out to be a wonderful "Mother's Weekend" sighting. We picked up a pair of humpback whale that Krill identified as Photon and her new calf of this year. Photon and her calf were traveling slowly to the southwest toward the tip of Cape Cod. This is the fourth known mother and calf pair for the season! What a wonderful sight to see mom and her new calf swimming side-by-side.
Everyone had a great time offshore including the crew. We are very excited about our Mother's Day trip tomorrow and hope we see Photon and her calf once again in celebration of this special day.
Today we had another morning whale watch out of Plymouth aboard the Tails of the Sea. Tammy and Krill talked with passengers as we headed out of Plymouth Harbor and chatted about the interesting whale and shark artifacts that were on display for our passengers.
Captain Johnny was at the help of the Tails of the Sea and took us across the southern portion of Stellwagen Bank. To the east, we picked up a trio of humpback whales that included Hancock and Centipede. Something big was happening in this trio for Centipede was breaching out of the water and then rolling on its side lifting its flipper out of the water and slapping it on the surface.
Krill and Tammy were not able to identify the third whale in this trio, but they have the photos and will be trying to determine this animal's identity in future days.
After leaving this active group, we headed back west to the southwest corner of the bank. There we joined the Captain John and Son IV as they reported a large number of feeding whales. As we approached the area, we saw Nocturne's 07 calf feeding at the surface, but on its own. Surfacing close to this animal were a number of Atlantic white-sided dolphins who seemed to come out of nowhere.
We moved on to find a large group of humpbacks feeding in unison. This group also included a mother and calf pair and we watched in awe as the calf swam right up to our boat in a very curious manner.
The humpbacks were able to push the bait to the surface using columns of bubbles. These columns formed ring-like structures that formed a ring or net-like shape. These bubble nets are often used by humpback whales to help them concentrate the bait. As the whale rises through the bubble net with mouth wide open, we were treated to one of the most amazing sights ever seen offshore.
A fabulous day offshore. Lots of surface activity and lots of great views of these magnificent and endangered whales.