For the past couple of weeks, we have had great trips but have had to do some searching to locate the whales. Even with a bit of a longer ride, we have been able to see a number of different behaviors including logging (sleeping) and observing the whales feeding beneath the surface from bubble clouds at the surface.
During the middle of the past week we found a whale on the northwest corner of Stellwagen- much closer than they have been. We wondered if this was a whale passing through the area or an indication that we might start to see the whales move north a bit. By Saturday the whales were back on the southern end of the Bank, and stormy weather kept us at the dock all day Sunday. We were surprised by a report Monday morning of about 20 humpbacks on the northwest corner. We left Gloucester very hopeful, and 16 miles out were not disappointed! We watched at least 10 humpbacks, with a number of others in the area. Open mouth feeding, mom and calf pairs, surface activity- we had it all! We sure hope they will stay in the area for a while.
Humpbacks interacting with another group during bubble feeding
Open mouth feeding
Scylla was the first whale in a number of weeks to visit the northwest corner
The whales have been shifting around a bit lately, and we have had some long rides over Stellwagen Bank. Each day is also different from the next, as we have watched anywhere from 1-15 whales on a single trip, including the three main species we see (minke, humpback, and fin). Many of the humpbacks that we have seen have been unfamiliar individuals, with a number of juveniles, including Flamingo’s and Mostaza’s 2014 calves. Flamingo’s calf is a whale that appears to be well-known throughout the area, as there have been multiple reports of this whale interacting with boats and their passengers. Our experience meeting him/her was no different, with the whale circling the boat, rolling and laying lazily at the surface.
My favorite sightings recently have been a mother and calf fin whale pair that we have watched a couple of times. It is uncommon to see a mom and calf fin whale pair, and we don’t know if there is a designated breeding ground for this species or where they spend their time at different times of the year. One young calf was very surface active two days- the first time we watched this pair the calf breached out of the water, and the second it lunged as it was swimming, creating a huge splash each time it surfaced.
Active fin whale calf and its mom
Flamingo’s 2014 calf spending much of its time with us rolling at the surface
A curious young seal
In addition to the whales, we also had an amazing encounter with two young seals. These two swam right up to the boat and played along side of us with each other, but what was amazing was watching them look at the different people on the bottom deck!