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Naturalists Notes
Naturalists Notes 6-26-18

June 26, 2018

9:00 AM

What a day! We began our trip just off of Gloucester where we enjoyed nice views of Scylla against the coastline. She was traveling straight toward Gloucester Harbor when she changed it up and surfaced to the northeast. After this change of direction we noticed a couple of bubble clouds and she began feeding (reports from the locals indicate there has been an abundance of mackerel and menhaden in the area).

While we were happy to have watched the one humpback we made the decision to head to the northwest corner, and wow, was the short ride worth it! We came to find Dross and her very curious and playful calf. The little whale was playing in seaweed when we arrived, bobbing up and down, lifting the rostrum out of the water, and watching our boat with eyes wide open. We gazed as the baby spyhopped and pirouetted in the waves before rejoining mom. As we were planning to take our last looks before beginning the drive back to Boston, Dross created an enormous, spiraling bubble net right off the bow and then lunged upward toward absolutely thrilled passengers.

Another interesting note for today was that while we were watching Dross’ calf, our deckhand Bob noticed some discarded rope in the water and fished it out. At one end was a broken plastic ring- a “breakaway link” designed to help whales free themselves if they become entangled. While no method is perfect, it was so encouraging to see that this piece of simple technology had worked and to be able to show people exactly what it is that we are talking about in regard to choosing more sustainable seafood options. The animals in our oceans need all the help they can get and we had a very inspired and motivated group of people hopping off the boat this afternoon!

Laura L. and Evie


10:00 AM

Greetings Whale Town, Our morning aboard the M/V Sanctuary was made on the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank, where we witnessed the Humpback whales Dross and her calf.  While Dross constructed webs of bubbles to summon herring to the ocean’s canopy, her calf spun webs from kelp that wound about rostrum and flipper. 

The calf soon exchanged the tactility of vegetation for that of gaseous immersion, for the progeny soon lulled in the bubbles of its creator who ascended between 3-5 minute dives.  We left these leviathans as they synchronized their dives and headings.

Periscope Down, Rich W D


11:00 AM

Today we boarded the Asteria for the 11am whale watch.  We had heard rumors of whales at the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank and decided to head straight there. And wow was it worth it! Soon after arriving a large bubble net formed to the right of the boat, and Dross followed with mouth agape. Her calf was nearby and we had excellent sightings of the mother and calf pair as they hung out close to the surface.  However, without any apparent signal to us, Dross wandered away leaving us to babysit her curious calf.  The calf gave us plenty of good looks and performed short fluking dives of 2-4 minutes.  We kept an eye out on mom and she covered quite a distance, at one point she was about a mile away from her baby.  Eventually we left the calf and went to check out Dross who still seemed to be feeding with bubble nets.  As we made our way back to Boston a minke also caught our eye.  This smaller whale was slowly milling about before diving into the abyss and disappearing from sight.

Bruna S.


12:00 PM

Hello all, Aboard the Aurora today, we ventured to the northwest corner to see what marine wildlife we could find. It was a multi-species day out on Stellwagen Bank. We started our trip by watching two fin whales traveling together. With the seas calm and the bright sun hitting the water just right, we got a great look at the entire length of each individual.

After some great close looks at the fin whales, we went over to the humpback activity we had spotted close by. Dross and her calf captured our attention, starting with some fluking dives from Dross. Her calf joined in a bit, fluking high in the air but surfacing again only seconds later. Our passengers were delighted when mom and baby fluked in sync! While Dross blew bubble nets and surfaced rapidly through them, showing us her pleats, her calf spent her time rolling at the surface. Dross’s calf even blew a few little bubbles herself! The highlight of our trip was when both humpbacks approached closely, with Dross diving right next to the boat.

On our trip, we also saw at least two minke whales and a harbor seal too! It was an excellent day to be out on the water!

Chelsi N.


2:30 PM

Greetings Whale Town, Our afternoon trek to northern seas echoed the cast of the morning’s theater, but the calf of Dross took an interest in the jet brume of our vessel.  After the rorqual inquisitor scanned our boat with a rostrum crowned in tubercles, it united with Dross who dutifully cast incantations of bubbles between a repertoire of five minute dives.  

An entire sun’s cycle was made upon this maternal aggregation, the closest semblance this calf will have to family through the decades of life that lay before it.  May we watch this calf through the years, as it breaks from the chrysalis of calf hood into a future as predatory bubble weaver.

Periscope Down, Rich W D