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Naturalists Notes
Naturalists Notes 6-23-18

June 23, 2018

9:00 AM

Greetings Whale Town,

The Cetacea made her morning pass

On heaving seas inked in darkened waves

Our company did spy rising mass

Of fabled whale our interest craves.

“Oh homunculus leviathan,

How you cast your chassis into sky!”

We cooed and cackled as if sea hen

As we encountered breaching whale fry.

The theatrics of Dross’s calf displayed

The thunderous power of Humpback pride.

This whale joined its mother in parade

In southern dives under Stellwagen’s tide.

Periscope Down, Rich W D


10:00 AM

Hello Whaleville, Today aboard the Asteria we spent our morning with Dross and calf at mid bank in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  The two started out together but slowly drifted to approximately a mile apart by the time we were done, leaving us with babysitting duty once again.  The calf rolled and did some flipper slaps, tail slaps, and tail breaches off and on while Dross was busy bubble net feeding.  It’ll be really interested to see if and when this calf may start feeding on its own this fall.  At the end of the trip I had a lot of passengers ask me “where are all the male whales??”  Female baleen whales have the sole responsibility for raising the calves, and we often end up seeing many more known females than known males, but still have plenty of sightings of male whales throughout our season too!

Until next time, Heidi


11:00 AM

On the Aurora this morning for the 11 a.m. whale watch, we braved steady winds and choppy seas as we headed toward Stellwagen Bank. We approached Midbank to find Dross blowing some bubble clouds. She took consistent 6 minute dives, and lunged through a perfectly circular cloud of green upon each resurfacing. She suddenly made a swift turn, changing directions and heading toward our vessel head on, giving those on the bow a wonderful look at her sheer size. It was at this point we realized she was returning to her calf, who was, per its character, about a mile away from mom. We noticed a quick little tail lob from the calf, and on its next resurfacing it was right next to Dross. We watched as they traveled together, and as the calf switched from either side of mom, realized that it was now the calf’s turn to eat. Dross continued to nurse her calf for a few minutes, when suddenly they both slowly disappeared beneath the surface. Once again, Dross slowly left her calf to find more food, while the baby lingered at the surface close to the boat. Suddenly, there were shouts of excitement as the calf did a full spinning breach just off the port pulpit! We were then treated to a series of spinning breaches, chin breaches, head breaches, tail breaches, and tail lobs. As the Sanctuary approached to observe this jumpy youngster, we slowly turned west, smiling and excited for our afternoon adventure.

Flukes up! Ashlyn, Evie, and Haley


12:00 PM

For our noon trip, we boarded the Sanctuary and headed to the northwest corner where there was reports of a mom and calf. Sure enough we found Dross’s 18 calf! We briefly saw a second blow in the area only for it to not be seen again for quite some time. Dross’s 18 calf captured our attention by repeatedly breaching, and trumpeting. After watching this little one, they disappeared from view. The next blow we spotted was a mile away! Upon getting closer, Dross and her calf had reunited, surfacing quickly together. After watching these two, it was time for us to return to Boston.

Chelsi N.


1:30 PM

Our afternoon of middle bank trek

Was made in curtain of mist and fog

And from the shelter of whale watch deck

Our eyes did scan the whisp of sea nog.

A lone humpback whale cruised with intent,

Keeping from reach by a mile’s swell

But on future prize our captain was bent

On meeting a beast with secrets to tell.

We happened upon the Humpback whale Nine,

Who turned toward us with rorqual gaze.

This dame extended fluke and tailspine

To drift under our hull in plankton haze!

Our vessel was locked in idle wait

As our mammalian hid under hull

And soon did our whale leave us to fate

And we made landward with tails to mull!

Periscope Down, Rich W D


2:30 PM

Hello Whaleville, In the afternoon we went north to Jeffrey’s ledge and were delighted to catch up with an old friend: Pinball!  This is our first sighting of Pinball for us this season, and we have spent many days watching her up north in previous years.  She was certainly “pinballing” around, coming up in many different places and occasionally switching directions while at the surface, probably searching for food down on the sea floor.  We spotted a couple other whales in the distance and eventually wandered over to have a look at a whale that was bubble cloud feeding with an occasional lunge at the surface.  This whale did not fluke, but I was able to match the dorsal fin to another photo of Gondolier that I had taken just last week.  There was another humpback nearby, but between the rain and building seas, we turned ourselves for home, so that individual shall remain a mystery.

Until next time, Heidi


3:30 PM

For the 3:30 whale watch, we headed north and headed toward a blow we spotted off Thacher Island. We slowly moved closer to our humpback whale, and were treated to some amazing looks at Pinball. She was taking fairly short dives between 3-5 minutes, surfacing rapidly each time. Upon each surfacing, she appeared to be restful while filling her lungs, perhaps indicating she was actively subsurface feeding. We were able to follow her path of travel as she was just sinking beneath the surface and we could make out her large pectoral fins. She treated us to some wonderful close approaches all around the boat, and the small group of great passengers was wowed by her sheer size. We spotted a minke whale that surfaced several times, and caught sight of a few more scattered blows, and before we knew it, it was time to return to Boston. All in all, an excellent start to the whale watching weekend!

Flukes up! Ashlyn, Evie, and Haley