Naturalists Notes 8-5-18
August 5, 2018
Today we headed to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank among patches of heavy fog. In a dense cloud we were able to find two logging whales. These sleepy cetaceans dozed in the fog for a while, and we were able to get great looks at Venom and her calf. They eventually awoke, and simultaneously dove down. We stayed with them for a bit, keeping up with calf as Venom took longer dives. At one point Venom surfaced with water streaming from her baleen, indicating that she was perhaps feeding deeper in the water column. Eventually calf seemed to slow down again and went back to logging while Venom dove down. We left these lazy whales and were heading home when a pod of North Atlantic white sided dolphins interrupted our return. It was fun to watch these smaller cetaceans swim about before making our way back to Boston.
Today aboard the Aurora we headed the SW corner of Stellwagen bank in nice glass seas on our 10am trip. With such great visibility, we were able to spot a small pod of Atlantic White-Sided dolphins! We even spotted a calf in the mix. After getting looks of the dolphins, we arrived at the corner to find two restful humpbacks, Venom and her 2018 calf. Venom’s calf logged almost our entire trip, giving us great looks at its birthmarks, which the mom Venom also has alongside her left head (see photos). The calf also gave us a surprise lobtail! Near the end of our trip, Venom began bubble cloud feeding and we got to witness one lunge from her.
Sincerely, Laura Howes
We found ourselves surrounded by many minke whales on the 11:00 trip as we approached the southwest corner. Their speedy movements made for an exciting start as passengers pointed out sightings left and right. Twice we were even approached by these typically elusive animals and had beautiful views under the calm water (see photo). Eventually we found Venom who was feeding in close proximity to one of our known unknowns, but that whale swam deeper into the tuna fleet so we stayed close to her and her calf. While mom took long dives resulting in bubble clouds preceding her surfacings, the calf made a couple of close approaches and even popped up within feet of the port bow.
Laura L., Emma, and Caroline
Logging was the name of the game this afternoon as we encountered several sleepy humpback whales in the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Our trip started off with a pair, Venom and her calf. We enjoyed many great looks at these two while they rested at the surface and took lazy fluking dives. We soon moved on to another logging humpback whale, Spell, who before long awoke to roll onto its side and blow bubbles! Our sightings were rounded out with a brief look and a fin whale and a couple of minkes, as well as some time spent with a small pod of Atlantic white sided dolphins. What a great four species trip!
On our 2:30pm trip, we headed back to the SW corner, this time finding a different mom and calf, Dyad and her 2018 calf. This pair was also restful, though mom humpback Dyad spent more time hanging just below the surface while resting. Mom woke up and starting deep feeding, while Dyad’s calf continued to snooze. At one-point mom must have felt that the calf needed to wake up/get closer, so she did a loud flipper-slap at the surface, possibly getting the calf’s attention. We wrapped up the trip with looks of Cosmos and Doric.
Sincerely, Laura Howes
The afternoon light cast a beautiful glow as we set off again with the south shore coastline in our view. Surprisingly we found two minke whales and a fin whale just a couple of miles from the coastal town of Scituate. On the bank we first watched Samara blowing bubble cloud after bubble cloud with sights of four other humpback whales scattered around the area. She then began snoozing but was startled awake and dove when a recreational boater drove right in front of her rostrum within a few feet.
From there we could see Timberline kick feeding so we decided to give Samara some space and cruised over. At first Timberline would surface next to the bubble cloud but perhaps the fish moved higher in the water column because it began lunging straight upward! Working with the smaller boats proved to be a challenge but we were able to catch one solid view of Timberline unobscured. It was a fun trip with lots of nice people!
Laura L., Emma, and Caroline
Hi all, Our 5 p.m. trip aboard the Cetacea met our first marine mammals earlier than expected. We encountered a speedy fin whale, and not long after, a hungry minke whale, about 12 miles west of the southwest corner. Our minke whale friend bounced around between the pulpits for a little, lunging and giving passengers some awesome looks at this typically shy creature. Eventually, this whale let us continue our journey, and we reached our destination, immediately spotting 6-7 blows. We started with Milkweed and our newfound friend with the mysterious hooked dorsal, who were logging at the surface. This pair hung out for a while, giving us some amazing looks before Milkweed took a beautiful fluking dive while her friend took a non fluking dive. We then met up with another traveling pair of humpback whales, Samara and Cosmos. Though traveling linearly, these two strayed the path to make a few close approaches, wowing passengers with some great looks. We met up again with Milkweed and friend, before we began to head back west.
As we always say, the whale watch doesn’t end until we reach Boston. In an event of perfect timing, a feeding pod of 100-150 Atlantic white sided dolphins appeared in the sunset during our journey home. Passengers appreciated this interesting bonus sighting, and after a few great looks, we continued on toward the picturesque setting sun.
Flukes up! Ashlyn and Evie