May 21, 2014: Beautiful Day

What an amazing day today! It was flat calm and sunny and warm!

We started our trip with great looks at a basking shark. Basking sharks can be up to 25 feet long, and they have large gills that go from the top of their head to the bottom of their head. Basking sharks are filter feeders, so they use their gill rakes to filter plankton out of the water. I saw something today that I hadn’t seen in 20 years. While the shark was feeding, you could see the gill filaments between the gills–they were bright red. Gill filaments are the soft, red, fleshy part of the gills.. As sharks swim, water passes through the gills and oxygen is taken into the blood by these filaments.

This picture is enhanced a little so that you can see the red filaments!

This picture is enhanced a little so that you can see the red filaments!

 

This is also enhanced, but you can see the inside of the mouth so much clearer :)

This is also enhanced, but you can see the inside of the mouth so much clearer 🙂

 

As we headed a little further out, it was so calm that we saw a few harbor seals, grey seals and sharks in the distance. When we reached the whales, we spent the beginning of the trip with Rocker. He has such a unique feeding style. He would blow a large ring of small bubbles in a half circle, then come up through the middle with a chin breach and lobtail (part of kick feeding), then a few more bubbles would come up and finally Rocker. It was so unique, and we saw him feed that way at least 10 times. His feeding style was a combination of Bandit (who was around in the late 90’s a lot) and Rune (who often does a chin breach when she feeds.)

Rocker

Rocker was first sighted in 1990.

 

While with Rocker, another whale came over that fed using bubble nets! We saw at least 4 complete bubble nets during our time watching this whale. At one point, a very small calf popped up next to us (not near the mom) which was a big surprise. We saw very little of the calf, but watched the mom feed many times. We finally figured out the mom was Osprey, and we think this is her first calf.

Bubble Net

Bubble Net from Osprey

 

Osprey was first seen in 2007.

Osprey was first seen in 2007.

 

We saw many sand eels flittering at the surface throughout the day. In our plankton tow we got loads of copepods, so there is lots of good stuff out there for the whales to feed on!! Hope it continues 🙂

The sand eels were jumping out of the water as the laughing gull flew over!

The sand eels were jumping out of the water as the laughing gull flew over!

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