Naturalists Notes 5-21-18
May 21, 2018
This morning we boarded the Asteria and made our way to the southern portion of Stellwagen Bank. In total, we spent our trip today with 20+ scattered humpback whales, two fin whales, and 100+ Atlantic white sided dolphins! The glassy water made for perfect viewing conditions today, and we were easily able to observe the movements and the entire body lengths of whales and dolphin alike. The first large group of humpbacks we observed consisted of Canopy, Perseid (a personal favorite!), Mend, and Spell. These whales were doing some slow traveling, and we moved further ahead for nearby feeding activity after some time. Many of the humpbacks in the area appeared to be sporadically kick and bubble net feeding. The first feeding group that we observed close up included Nile, Pitcher, Aerospace, and 16BH73. We also spotted a lone whale named Lollipop amongst all the activity.
I also want to extend a thank you and congratulations to one of our Research and Education interns, Mary! Today was her last day out on the water with us, and she’s been a great asset to our team this spring. We look forward to hearing of her future work as she starts her new research position next week!
On today’s 12pm whale watch aboard the Aurora, we headed to the NW corner of Stellwagen Bank and ended up with a six species day! On our way to the corner we noticed many feeding gulls and gannets, and then quickly saw lots of splashes from a pod of 200-250 white-sided dolphins. From the scattered quick movement of the dolphins and the swarm of gulls, it was pretty evident we were watching a feeding frenzy!
We then moved on to the corner, where we spotted several scattered blows. While slowly traveling the area to decide where to go, we suddenly saw some distant high-lobtailing. Once I zoomed in with my camera lens, I could see the tail was a little pointier than a humpback’s – it was actually a North Atlantic Right Whale! Though we had to stay the regulatory 500-yard distance, it was still an amazing sight to appreciate. As we left the whale, we saw that it began skim feeding.
After that, we found many humpback whales scattered about, most of which were bubble-net feeding solitarily. We first spent time with Shuffleboard, who fed alongside our boat a few times. We also spotted Measles and Tripod, along with even more individuals in all directions, totally to about 10-15 humpbacks. On our way home, we continued so see more humpbacks, along with a fin whale, minke way, and 2 sei whales, making it a 6 marine mammal species day!
Sincerely, Laura Howes