Tuesday, September 18, 2012
September 15, 2012 Whale Watch
12 pm trip with Joanne
It was a beautiful fall morning, with light winds, calm seas and crisp, clear air. We traveled to the SW corner of Stellwagen Bank and got to start our trip with two of the Gulf of Maine’s Matriarchs—Salt and her ‘bff’ Cardhu. Salt, the Grande Dame of Stellwagen Bank, and her companion Cardhu spend a bit of time together each summer. It’s an interesting long term association, which is quite rare in baleen whales.
Cardhu was first seen in 1980 and is one of the most well-known humpback whales on Stellwagen Bank. Her flukes are perfectly black and she is named for the dark hue of the famous Cardhu malt whiskey. Black fluked whales can be hard to identify in the field, but since 1995, a flattened area on her left fluke trailing edge makes it easier to recognize.
Cardhu was likely mature when first cataloged as her first documented calf was born in 1982, shortly after she was first seen in 1980. She has been seen with 11 calves and possibly has more. She is a mom this year, although about a week ago, she was documented without her 2012 calf. It is quite possible it has been successfully weaned, although it is hard to say for certain what this means for her calf. Hopefully, researchers will document her calf in future weeks and/or years.
We got amazing looks at Salt’s white dorsal fin, for which she was named—looking like someone had sprinkled salt upon it. And as we slowly moved off the pair, Cardhu breached!
Not far from them, we saw Cantilever, who came up right next to us and right off our stern. And we finished our trip with a few looks at Rapier’s 2009 calf—easily recognized from the scaring on its caudal peduncle as a result of a vessel strike while a calf.