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Naturalists Notes
Naturalists Notes 6-24-18

June 24, 2018

9:00 AM

We headed out on this misty morning and came to a cluster of humpback whales just east of Cape Ann who each seemed to be occupying their own little corner of the ocean. Sedge and Hornbill milled about, blowing occasional bubble clouds and surfacing in as much of a predictable pattern as feeding humpbacks can! In the distance we noticed a little whale leaping out of the water and when we got closer we recognized it as Spoon and her calf. Spoon remained out of sight for much of our trip but we enjoyed watching the calf bop around before catching a last look at Sedge before heading for home.

Laura L. and Emma

 

10:00 AM

This morning we found ourselves on southern Jeffreys Ledge among five different humpback whales. Most of our trip was spent with a mother/calf pair, identified as Spoon and her calf. The real star of today was the young calf, who remained very surface active as Spoon was taking longer dives. The calf engaged in some tail lobs, tail throws, flipper slaps, rolling, and even a pull breach! Once mom returned to the surface, the calf almost immediately began to nurse. Our morning also included brief looks at Sedge and Diablo, which made for a very fun morning!

Kelsey

 

11:00 AM

Hello whale friends, Today aboard the Asteria we returned to the south of Jeffrey’s Ledge and spent time first with humpback whales Spoon and calf.  Spoon has been very lethargic recently, and today that was still mostly true even as she lazily rolled onto her side and gave a few big waves of her enormous flippers, delighting our passengers.  At one point she and the calf floated very close to us just off our stern.  Her dives were almost slow-motion, giving us ample opportunity to get a great look at her fluke.  Spoon does look to be a little thin this year, probably due to her pregnancy and rearing of the calf.  Hopefully she is still feeding and will be able to build up some more strength soon.  She is one of our largest females and it’s always a treat to see her.

We rounded out the trip with a drive-by from Hornbill as we floated with Spoon and her calf, and then moved on to another whale in the area that turned out to be Sedge, with its distinctive dorsal fin and dark fluke.  A third whale we stopped on on our way home did not fluke but appeared to be hunting around for fish.

Until next time, Heidi

 

12:00 PM

We boarded the Sanctuary this morning and headed north for the 12 p.m. whale watch. On our way, we glimpsed a harbor seal and a minke whale, making us all the more eager for more marine mammals. As we reached Jeffery’s Ledge, we discovered Sedge taking 5 minute dives and blowing occasional bubble clouds. We got some great looks at Sedge’s unique features, and were treated to some looks at its’ beautiful tail. We left Sedge to be enjoyed by some other vessels moving into the area, and made our way to a whale hanging just off the coast of Gloucester. We caught up with Diablo, who was blowing her own bubble clouds and surfacing rapidly. She even surprised us with a quick tail breach! We slowly left her behind and headed to Boston, ready to return the open ocean for the 5 p.m.

Flukes up! Ashlyn, Medha, and Evie

 

1:30 PM

We headed back out to the same location for our afternoon trip, however by then the four humpbacks we had identified in the morning were swapped out for a new individual, Diablo. We observed her ever changing behaviors as she took short, non-fluking dives, then switched it up to passengers watching nice, high flukes, with a smattering of random bubble clouds thrown in the mix. We’re already seeing some patterns of the most sighted whales for 2018 and it makes me wonder what the summer will bring.

Laura L. and Emma

 

2:30 PM

This afternoon we made our way back out towards southern Jeffreys Ledge, and stopped to look a lone humpback whale just a few miles off Gloucester. This whale was identified as Diablo, who mostly was taking some short, erratic dives. After a short time, we continued on farther to the north and rejoined with the humpback whale pair that we spent time with in the morning, Spoon and her calf. The highlight of the trip was a close approach by both mom and calf, which gave us a great look at the size difference between the two! Overall it was a very fun and memorable day out on the water.

Kelsey

 

3:30 PM

Hello whale friends, In the afternoon we returned to Jeffrey’s and stopped in a couple different spots before relocating Spoon and her calf by seeing a big splash from the calf!  This little one continued for a few minutes doing some breaching and tail throws and tail slaps while mom rested.  She floated for a long time while the calf continued to be just slightly playful at the surface, before going on 10-minute dives.  At one point during one of her surfacings, Spoon appeared to lift her head up against some seaweed floating on the surface.  Sometimes calves will play with kelp or seaweed, but it was fun to see her appear to possibly enjoy the sensation of the kelp against her head.

Until next time, Heidi

 

5:00 PM

For the sunset whale watch, a small group of passengers braved wind and rain for some great looks at Hornbill on Jeffery’s Ledge. Although traveling erratically, he surprised us with a few bubble clouds and lunges. Folks on board really appreciated his activity, and his last, beautiful fluking dive was met with a round of applause. As we drove away from Hornbill, we had a quick sighting of a fin whale that traveled just off our starboard side, as well as two other humpbacks. These whales traveled into the scattered clouds of fog, and as we turned back into the rain to head toward Boston, the excitement of the passengers did not fade. I enjoyed several wonderful conversations with passengers of all ages, and even though a sunset view evaded us, we had a successful whale watch indeed.

A special shout out to our intern Medha, as although she has a few more days on the water, this is our last day working together. She has been a great help to me during my first few trips, and I want to wish her the best of luck as she continues her journey at Fordham!

Flukes up! Ashlyn, Medha, and Evie