June 7, 2014

What a great day today! We had two completely different trips in the morning and afternoon, both with awesome sightings.

The day started out with an amazing look at a fin whale. This whale was swimming very slowly and staying close to the surface for a long time, allowing us to be able to appreciate just how large they are! At one point, we could see almost the entire whale under the water, with an especially clear look at the fluke.

Fin whales have great coloring on the top of their bodies, and you can see the white color of the lower right jaw.

Fin whales have great coloring on the top of their bodies, and you can see the white color of the lower right jaw.

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Have your camera ready!

From there, we noticed another whale nearby. It looked like a minke whale, but it did not have a dorsal fin. As we were able to take some closer looks, we realized that the whale had a huge white scar where the dorsal fin should have been, and also had propeller scars on its back. Unfortunately, it this whale is an example of a number of threats that whales face. The scar looked to be old and healed over, and this minke was swimming quite quickly. We then viewed our third species of the day,  humpbacks! We started with Cardhu, a female well known to Stellwagen Bank, and also in the area was Mogul.

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Our first sighting of Mogul this season!

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We spotted the family of eider ducks living in Gloucester Harbor on our way back to the dock.

The first whale we watched on our afternoon trip was Amulet, and then Measles, two humpbacks that have been spending a lot of time in the area lately. We also saw a number of seals in the area. With a lot of bird activity as well, we could see evidence of a large amount of bait fish in the area.

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It is clear why Measles has its name!

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A grey seal taking in the day.

In addition to Amulet and Measles, we also watched an association between two whales. One was easily identified as Pleats, as she is another whale with propeller scars. It is unfortunate to have seen two whales that have sustained these kind of injuries but it allows us to talk about the challenges marine animals face. Pleats and the other whale went for a dive and we were wondering where they might be, when suddenly Pleats appeared in front of us flipper slapping!

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The scarring on Pleats’ back is best viewed from the right side, but also noticeable from this angle.

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Shortly after this surface activity, the association ended and the two whales swam on their own.

We were really hoping to get a look at the other whale’s fluke to ID it, but it did not fluke up at all! Our only shot was when the two whales were swimming parallel to the boat, and we got a tiny glimpse of one side. By looking at the marking at the top, as well as another photo of the whale’s dorsal fin, we were able to ID this whale as Jabiru! On the way back to the harbor, we also stopped briefly to take a quick glimpse of a basking shark. Awesome day!

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Sometimes we don’t have a lot to work with when identifying whales.

 

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