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Naturalists Notes
Naturalists Notes 6-30-18

June 30, 2018

9:00 AM

Today aboard the Cetacea we returned to the northwest corner on glassy but rolling seas.  We briefly stopped for a very small harbor seal before continuing on where we found several humpback whales spread out as singles and a pair.  We also saw many shearwaters and storm petrels!  It’s wonderful to see these birds returning to the bank as a good indication of productivity picking up.  With the calm water we could see straight down to lots of bait – mackerel – right around the boat.  We caught up with Shuffleboard for a while, who started doing some kick feeding next to us!  She did a few kicks and big lunges. 

We then moved on to Hancock and Pleats who were also doing some sub-surface bubble net feeding, though we still got to see them come up with water straining out of their mouths.  Today we had a better angle to see Pleats’ propeller scar on her right side that gives her her name.  We finished our trip with a few looks at Spoon and her calf.  The calf started out a little active with some tail throws, but eventually settled down and swam close to mom as she moved steadily just under the surface, only coming up every few minutes for a breath.  We could follow the reflection of her pectoral flippers as she swam right under the surface, the calf coming up more frequently for some breaths.

Until next time, Heidi


10:00 AM

Greetings Whale Town, Today’s 10am trek aboard Asteria brought us northwest to the Humpbacks Spoon and her calf, two leviathans heading south in a determined manner.  Spoon’s calf tail breached thrice before we made for Shuffleboard who lunged for mackerel between bouts of bubble nets between 3-5 minute dives. Due north by one mile were whales Pleats and Hancock who cast predatory bubbles in synchronicity between 2-3 minute dives.

Our morning foray was brought to closure by a Fin whale who lulled about surface shoals of mackerel. This mammoth circled around our boat and even made a close approach off our bow, enabling close views of a mammal seldom seen in such clarity.

Periscope Down, Rich W D


11:00 AM

Hello all, Today aboard the Aurora for our 11 am trip,  we ventured to the northwest corner to see what marine wildlife we could find. After a short trip to the corner, we spot two fin whales traveling together! There was much whale activity on the corner today, so we made our way over to a single humpback, who turned out to be Shuffleboard. Shuffleboard went on some fluking dives and then began to blow bubbles and lunge at the surface. Shuffleboard also displayed kick-feeding, which gave passengers a variety of feeding behaviors to observe! There was also a pair of humpbacks in the area, Pleats and Hancock traveling together. They, too, were utilizing bubbles to feed today. Overall, watching the variety of behaviors was a great way to start the day.

Chelsi N.


12:00 PM

Happy Saturday Everyone! This morning we set off on the Sanctuary to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  The glass seas and sunny skies gave us wonderful visibility not only out to the horizon, but also straight through the water.  This is what allowed us to see the enormous amount of bait balls hanging out just below the surface.  A great sign since where there are fish, there are usually hungry whales not far off!  A humpback whale fluke soon flung out of the water in front of us, this humpback was Shuffleboard.  Shuffleboard was doing some kick feeding.  Soon after, we spotted a pair of humpbacks not too far off and went to investigate, this led us to Pleats and Hancock.  As soon as we arrived, we saw a perfect ring of bubble rising from below.  Then the open mouths of Pleats of Hancock burst through.  This pair continued their amazing feeding display for many rounds.  When this pair started to move off, we cruised down the bank and got bonus looks at multiple other humpbacks, all traveling solo.  We met up with Cardhu, Doublet, and Clamp.  To top off the morning, we were also lucky enough to gets some incredible looks at two fin back whales.  They were traveling slowly and the large size difference between the two made us believe this could be a possible mom, calf pair!

Until the next ocean adventure, Lorna and Haley


1:30 PM

In the afternoon we returned to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and spent quite a bit of time observing Cardhu, who was also doing some bubble cloud feeding and would practically bounce up to the surface with her mouth full of fish and water.  We were able to get several looks at her fluke, but also sadly saw even more signs of her recent entanglement, which seemed to have wrapped pretty far down her tail stock and rubbed raw along the leading edge of her fluke.  Luckily this was an entanglement that she was able to escape on her own, but sadly many whales aren’t so fortunate, and 70% of our humpback whales have been entangled at least once in their lifetime.  Thankfully she seems to be doing well and feeding normally.

We resighted Pleats and Hancock again and got several looks at this pair – it’s interesting to note that Pleats had been with Cardhu yesterday, and now is with Hancock.  Both Hancock and Cardhu are older females, whereas Pleats is a younger individual, born in 2007.  Very often we see this kind of association of younger whales spending time with older individuals.  It’s a great illustration of the value of photo-identification research giving more context to our observations.

Until next time, Heidi


2:30 PM

Greetings Whale Town, The 2pm excursion was made along the northwestern edge of Stellwagen Bank, where we found 3 Fin whales headed for the southeast.  Spread like stars across an oceanic cosmos were Humpback whales Cardhu and Doublet, ascending in fashion randomized in timing and any consistent course. 

We also did happen upon Clamp and Shuffleboard who fed in solitude amidst bubble nets.  Our quest was concluded with Pleats and Hancock, feeding in unison as witnessed throughout the day.

Periscope Down, Rich W D


3:30 PM

Hello all, For our afternoon 3:30 pm whale watch, we returned to the northwest corner in hopes to see some more whale activity. Upon arrival, we spotted many blows! Two of these belonged to fin whales. We spent time with several single humpback whales that were feeding individually, including Shuffleboard, Cardhu, Clamp, and Doublet. For our afternoon trip, we got to see an array of feeding behaviors by these solitary travelers including probable subsurface feeding, bubble clouds and lunging!

Chelsi N.


5:00 PM

Happy Saturday Everyone! This evening we took off towards the same location of our morning trip.  The wind had picked up a little bit, but the sunny skies were sticking around.  We arrived and immediately saw multiple blows in the area, but we headed for a single humpback that was surrounded by a large group of birds.  We are not disappointed.  The moment we approached the humpback, it erupted with a huge open mouth, pleats expanded.  It was Shuffleboard!  Shuffleboard did not stop there.  This open mouth feeding continued over and over.  Then, a true moment of awe occurred.  As we idled, a bubble cloud rose directly next to the boat, off the right side of the bow.  The whole boat was silent as we watched with anticipation.  Shuffleboard surged out from the depths, mouth open wide.  She snapped it shut, twisted her body onto her side, rose a flipper in the air, went completely upside down, then dove (still upside down) right underneath the boat.  A moment like this will not be soon forgotten by anyone on board.  After this breath taking display, we cruised off to see some off the many other blows in the area.  We came across another humpback, Clamp.  Clamp gave us some beautiful high fluking dives.  To top off this wonderful day, we cruised back to Boston under a fantastic sunset.

Until the next ocean adventure, Lorna and Haley