Naturalists Notes 8-2-18
August 2, 2018
Today we headed towards the middle of Stellwagen but turned south after only finding a lone minke whale. This proved to be the right way as we arrived to the southwest corner and found many scattered blows. We found a single humpback who quickly fluked before going on a long dive. A few blows caught our attention and we headed over to check out Venom, Venom’s calf and Infinity! Infinity is one of the whales currently being tracked and it’s interesting to see just how far he has travelled these past few days. After being tagged Infinity headed north to the coast of Canada, off Nova Scotia, and then looped around and is now back at Stellwagen. This was almost a 2000km journey! We were happy to see him again as he travelled around with the mom and calf pair. Venom’s calf was entertaining to watch as she rolled around, at one point just floating on her back. A few powerful tail breaches by Venom concluded a great afternoon out at sea.
We beat the heat in Boston today by boarding the Sanctuary for the 10 a.m. whale watch and making our way toward the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Upon arriving, we encountered a humpback whale kickfeeding. This humpback was a female named Etch-a-Sketch, and she continued to kick and blow bubbles during our time with her. After some time with her, we moved over to another pair of humpback whales, Sprinkles and Samara. Samara appeared sleepy and relaxed, while Sprinkles engaged in bouts of flipper slapping and rolling. Several minke whales kept us company when our pair would dive, and we were able to glimpse their minke mittens as they traveled just subsurface. We ended our trip with another episode of kickfeeding and an impressive surface lunge from Etch-a-Sketch. Turning toward Boston with smiles on our faces, we were eager to see what awaited us in the afternoon.
Flukes up! Ashlyn and Maddie
Hello all, The Asteria made way to the southwest corner to see what the whales were doing today. As we approached the reported whale area, we saw kick-feeding from a distance! This was an exciting start to our trip, and as we got closer, this feeding technique was being demonstrated from none other than Etch-A-Sketch. She was feeding with a partner today, who made herself known by lifting her massive flipper out of the water right next to her kick-feeding companion. When Etch-A-Sketch would ascend to collect her meal after her bout of kicking, the second whale would join in the tasty meal! A fluking dive from this flipper-slapping individual revealed it to be Samara. Samara even took a peek at us, her eye visible, as she rolled and drummed against the surface.
Samara and Etch-A-Sketch continued to feed for the rest of our trip, sometimes blowing bubble clouds at great depths and even lunging a few times. We continued to watch this pair as they transitioned from feeding closer to the surface to taking longer fluking dives, presumably feeding near the bottom of Stellwagen. Towards the end of our trip, when they surfaced, a third humpback surfaced as well! This third joined the group, but never fluked for us. Just in time to avoid the wind picking up, we made our way back home.
On today’s 12pm whale watch aboard the Aurora, we headed near the SW corner of Stellwagen Bank. When we first arrived, we found three different humpbacks, all in the same proximity. The first whale, ID’ed later as Samara, wasn’t showing its tail much as it was resting (logging) at the surface. We also spotted Etch-a-Sketch, who was doing some fluking dives and traveling through the area. We also had a brief cameo of humpback Sprinkles, who then booked its way out of the area.
After a few long dives, we then saw some splashing from Etch-a-Sketch! Etch-a-Sketch, one of Salt’s grandcalves, did several explosive tail breaches. She then began to lobtail and belly-up lobtail! We wrapped up the end of our trip with a curious visit from Venom’s 2018 calf (who hung out at the surface while mom took a long dive).
Sincerely, Laura Howes
This afternoon our sea conditions took a 180, and we had a hearty group of passengers endure waves and wind for a pretty spectacular 2:30 whale watch. Once again, we started with Etch-a-Sketch, who was still continuing to kick and lunge. We then moved over to a large splash, and were greeted by a massive full breach from Cosmos! Cosmos continued to engage in surface activity, flipper slapping and tail breaching during our time with it. As the seas continued to build, we began to make our way home and were interrupted by a lone humpback whale. With a beautiful high fluking five, this whale disappeared into the glare, and we continued toward Boston to end another successful whale watch.
Flukes up! Ashlyn and Maddie