Naturalist Notes 10-13-21 to 10-15-21

Three whale tails as they descend under the waters surface.

Whale Watch Sightings 10/13/21 through 10/15/21

Please find the Naturalist Notes for the week of 10/13/21 to 10/15/21 from the onboard team of naturalists for our New England Whale Watching tour in partnership with the New England Aquarium. 

10/13/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

After a few days away from whales, the Asteria headed out on the 10am whale watch boat towards Stellwagen Bank. With some swells but beautiful skies, we embarked on a bit of searching towards the southern edge of Jefferies Ledge. Our hard efforts paid off and we found a lot humpbacks – we estimate there were at least 12!! We spent our time with 3 groups of two humpbacks, but there were at least three more additional associations in the area. We first spent our time with Pixar and an unidentified individual. This pair was pretty surface active, and we got to see some flipper slapping, tail breaches, and lobtails. We then moved onto two other humpbacks – Tripod and Satula. These two whales had been previously spotted in a larger group of four, so it was interesting to see the group dynamics change during our time out there. Finally, we spent our time with another pair – Brine and another unidentified adult – and we got to see these two feed right in the middle of a pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins!

On our way to and from Jefferies we also found a mola mola, large pod of harbor porpoises, and a minke whale!

What a great day out on the water!

Kate, Alexis, and Sulmaan

 

10/14/21

12:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Aurora, the 12pm whale watch made its way towards Jeffrey’s Ledge in search of whales and other marine life. We spotted a few blows in the distance so we decided to investigate them. It turned out to be a pair of humpbacks who turned out to be Pleats and 3.14! This pair was also joined by a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. The dolphins were fairly active moving around a lot but stayed close to the pair of humpbacks. Not long after we started observing this pair, a third individual humpback, who I am still working to identify, joined! These three whales were mainly hanging out at the surface being very sluggish, which allowed us to get some great looks at them. Pleats was doing these very high and beautiful fluking dives. Just as we were about to leave, one of the whales spy hopped right near the boat! After some great final looks we had to head back to Boston. It was a really great day out on Stellwagen Bank!

Colin and Sulmaan

 

10/15/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The 10am headed out on the Asteria towards the southern edge of Jefferies Ledge in search of whales. We found ourselves in the middle of humpback soup – no matter where we looked there was a whale! We first started with Fan and Fan 21 Calf. I haven’t seen this mom and calf pair yet this season, and it was awesome to see this cute pairing! We then turned our attention to the humpback, Victim, who was spending a considerable amount of time at the surface. This whale is known to spend time in Maine and has not been seen yet by our boats this season – so it’s great to see new individuals in the fall as the whales head south! We then found Pixar and Shuffleboard, who gave us some great looks around our vessel.

In the middle of all these associations, we saw at least two additional groups flipper slapping in different directions. At one point, Fan even joined in some flipper slapping right off our stern! With so many different associations and surface activity, it’s certainly interesting to think about what communication could be occurring. As our trip was finishing up, some of these associations seemed to be moving close together. It’s interesting to think about the interactions that may occur later in the day if these groups do join up!

We finished out our day with a group of three – Brine, Tripod, and an unidentified adult. This association was traveling extremely close together and were very vocal – as we got to hear some very loud trumpeting. These three gave us the perfect send off when we got to witness a triple fluking dive off our left pulpit!

In total we saw upwards of 19 different humpback whales – what an absolutely awesome day!

Kate and Anna

 

10/15/21

12:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Aurora headed out to Jefferies Ledge in search of whales, and we were definitely not disappointed by what we found! As soon as we arrived, we found a few blows dotting the area a head of us but reports from other whale watching boats led us to continue our search to find what else may be a little further in the distance. We made the right choice, as we found ourselves surrounded by blows on all sides! We started our trip in the company of 3 humpbacks. Crisp was on one side of us, while another pair made up of Bowline and Victim were on the other side, so passengers were treated to whales in all directions! We also were given some great looks at a harbor seal who was bottling between our pulpits before diving down. We saw some signs of another pair of humpbacks a little further away and made our way over to find A-Plus, who was in the company of Peninsula! We resighted Crisp and Bowline, who had shifted up the social associations since we had last seen them. We continued on to find Shuffleboard, who was making the most of the end of the feeding season, evidenced by a bubble cloud as she surfaced ahead of us. An incredible display of surface behavior in the distance caught our attention, with a breach and multiple flipper slapping and lobtailing individuals making quite a splash! We decided to check it out, heading back to where we started, hoping that this behavior would continue. We were excited to find Sword, who was busy doing acrobatic lobtails! Sword was joined by another humpback, who turned out to be Pixar, and shortly after we arrived, Pixar seemed to almost respond to Swords lobtailing with a huge spinning breach! These whales began to charge forward, and 2 more humpbacks, including Victim, who had been in the area joined up with these two as they aggressively charged ahead. We reluctantly had to start heading home, but we got some bonus looks at A-plus and Shuffleboard as we made our way back to Boston.

What a FIN-tastic day out on Jefferies!

Sydney and Colin

More Images From This Week


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Boston Harbor City Cruises proudly contributes its data to the GOM Humpback Whale Catalog curated by Center for Coastal Studies.
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As a proud member of Whale Sense (whalesense.org), we are committed to responsible whale watching practices.  All photos were taken in compliance with established guidelines and regulations.