Naturalist Notes: 7/12/21-7/19/21

Whale Watch Sightings For 7-12-21 through 7-19/21

Please find the Naturalist Notes for the week of 7-12-21 to 7-19-21 from the onboard team of naturalists for our New England Whale Watching tour in partnership with the New England Aquarium. 

 

07-12-21

Whale Watch Sedge Tail Fluke
07-12-21-10am-Sedge-fk-156AD-DSC_2402.jpg

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

A hardy group of passengers boarded the Asteria for the 10 a.m. whale watch and made way for Jeffery’s Ledge. Upon arriving, we encountered two humpback whales, Sedge and Mogul! These two were feeding beneath the surface, darting through the area in search of fish. As our time with them came to a close, they surprised us by joining together, and popping up just off our stern! We enjoyed this close approach, and watched as they moved slowly away, taking beautiful fluking dives. We headed back toward Boston, welcoming the following seas and blue skies.

Flukes up!
– Ashlyn

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Aurora, the 11am whale watch headed out towards Stellwagen Bank in search of cetaceans and other marine life.  After some searching, we spotted some splashing in the distance.  After investigating the splashing, it turned out to be a humpback whale pair of Dross and her 2021 calf.  As we arrived on the scene, the calf was breaching!  Even Dross breached shortly after!  The calf continued to be playful by rolling around and tail breaching almost the whole time we were watching them.  As the calf seemed to be calming down, we were just about to leave when all of a sudden Dross and her calf breached right next to the boat! The calf continued to breach as we hung out for a little longer to see this surface active baby humpback.  We unfortunately ran out of time and had to head back to Boston.  It was a really fantastic day out on Stellwagen!

-Colin

 

1:30 pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today, the Sanctuary braved the swells and headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales. With some searching, we were able to locate two blows in close proximity to one another! We saw one humpback fluke, and then disappear beneath the waves as we approached. We were surprised by a fin whale, who surfaced off of our right pulpit! We got some great looks at this behemoth before it sunk beneath the surface and out of view. We waited for either the humpback or the fin whale to pop back up, but it seemed as though these two were taking very lengthy dives, likely feeding deep in the water column. An eagle-eyed passenger spotted two more blows in the distance, so we moved on to check it out. We were graced by the presence of two humpbacks, Dross and her 2021 Calf! These two were taking much shorter dives, and Dross frequently surfaced in the midst of bright green bubble clouds, evidence of her feeding below the surface. The calf rolled around at the surface, playing in moms bubbles, and it seemed as though this calf may have been trying to learn some feeding tricks from Dross. We were very lucky to also get some great looks at the fluke of the calf, as it dove alongside Dross. Unfortunately, we had to head back to Boston, and leave these two behind. Overall, a great day on the bank!

-Sydney and Kate

 

 

7-13-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The 10am whale watch headed out on the Asteria to Jeffrey’s Ledge in search of wildlife. We stopped on a blow and found ourselves with a fin whale, which gave us some great looks before diving out of sight. We continued on to a pair of two humpback whales, who turned out to be Valley and Jawa! These animals were doing some subsurface feeding but were taking very short dives, giving us incredible views. It was encouraging to see Valley feeding and thriving after her successful disentanglement earlier this season. While we watched these two whales, we noticed a fin in the water closer to us. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an ocean sunfish! We spent a few minutes right next to this beautiful animal before it vanished beneath the waves. After saying goodbye to Valley and Jawa, we saw a pair of blows on the way home. It ended up being two well known humpbacks named Spoon and Chromosome! We got to watch these two take a beautiful dive before we continued on home towards Boston. Despite the clouds and scattered showers, it was an incredible day on the water!

Until next time!

-David

 

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Aurora on the 11am whale watch, we headed to the middle of the bank in search of whales. We were happy to find Dross and calf, who were coasting slowly just a few feet below the surface. We even got a great treat of this pair approaching our boat close! After about 10 minutes of this close to boat behavior, Dross began doing some deep foraging, and we saw remnants of bubble clouds she was making below the surface. As I explained how bubble cloud feeding works, we were elated to see Dross’ calf come up on its own, practicing his own bubble clouds! Whether it was play or practice, it’s nice to see Dross’ calf learning the skills it will need to feed on his own someday!

Cheers,

-Laura H. & Allie

 

1:30 Whale Watch Sightings

Today’s 1:30 whale watch headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank once again, however today it was noticeably quiet with far fewer birds than we’ve been seeing and no whales to be found. We altered course and headed south and found that sometimes the unexpected really works in our favor! We first watched Music as she lazed about in the haze, but just as we began to drift to another whale she engaged in a brief bout of flipper slapping. After that, the action really began to pick up- we noticed a number of other humpbacks milling about and were spending some time looking for Freckles when we were surprised by a gigantic lunge from Shuffleboard and Tongs! The two fed as a pair for a bit before Downsweep joined, with Freckles perhaps taking advantage of the other whales’ work as well. What an awesome way to spend an afternoon!

 

Unfortunately, upon reviewing my photos from the trip I noticed that Shuffleboard had monofilament draped over the corner of her fluke. I’m fairly confident she will shed the gear if it’s not gone already, but it was quite a disappointment to find at the end of such a fantastic day. It does, however, provide a bit of a boost in reminding ourselves that there are lots of ways to help the oceans and the animals that inhabit them, and while we have come a long way in conservation, we have lots more that we all can be doing!

– Laura and Alexis

07-15-21

1:30PM Whale Watch Sightings

This afternoon we boarded the MV Sanctuary hopeful to get out to whale territory despite adverse weather conditions. Our determined passengers were not deterred by the thick fog that engulfed us in the harbor, masking our harbor tour landmarks and prompting a slow exit from the harbor.

 

We were met with some swells at the mouth of the harbor, but kept a steady course to the southwest and were soon rewarded by a break in the fog and smoother seas! Upon arrival at the southwest corner of the bank, we were welcomed by numerous blows in the vicinity and settled on a pair of 2 humpbacks. These whales were taking long dives below the surface, fluking one after the other and offering great looks at their impressive tails and powerful exhalations. They were also not shy about their identities, revealing that we were in the company of Tongs and Tornado!

Nearby, we saw another blow followed by a familiar fluke: Freckles! Freckles was actively feeding below the surface and blowing frequent bubble clouds nearby. She displayed the impressive speed and agility with which humpbacks can move when motivated by a meal, surfacing first nearby, only to resurface a few hundred yards away what felt like moments later. Freckles even surprised us a couple of times surfacing very close to our vessel with pectoral flippers outstretched.

 

After a few final dives, we reluctantly made our way back into the fog bank and homeward. A trip that started with some trepidation, turned into a joyful journey to the Bank!

Until next time!

– Linnea & Colin

7-16-21

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Asteria, the 10am whale watch headed out towards Jeffries Ledge in search of whales and other marine life.  As we arrived, there were several blows in the area.  We stayed with two humpbacks who turned out to be Sedge and Pinball.  These whales were doing a lot of moving around but they came up next to the boat several times allowing us to get some great looks at them!  We also got some great looks at a Mola mola and a gray seal too.  On the way back we also got a very quick look at a shark too!  Unfortunately I had a memory card malfunction so no photos were able to be taken sorry everyone.  But it was still a really fantastic day out on the water!

-Colin

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The Aurora headed towards Jefferies Ledge on the 11am whale watch in search of marine wildlife. We were thrilled to see that the fog has lifted and were able to spot at least 4 humpbacks in the area. We first spent time with Mogul, who gave us some great views during their many fluking dives. Mogul even surfaced right next to the boat at one point, giving passengers some amazing looks at this large animal. We then spent time with Pinball, who traveled mostly under water around the vessel. We were luckily able to see this whale’s distinct fluke in the distance as we were leaving! Multiple other blows were spotted around – overall a great day on the water and a good way to escape the Boston heat!

-Kate

 

1:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The afternoon whale watch escaped the heat of the city by traveling towards Jeffery’s ledge in search of marine wildlife. We found a few scattered blows once we arrived, the closest of which belonged to the humpback whale Pinball! This whale was cruising around, often surfacing where we least expected. Fortunately, she spent a good amount of time at the surface in between dives and this allowed us to get some really great looks at her. Unfortunately, we could also see several looming clouds and bright flashes of lightning on the horizon. We eventually waved goodbye to Pinball and left just as the storm closed in around us. It was a fun and exciting day out at sea!

– Bruna

 

07-17-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

It was a wonderful day for whale watching! The morning trip embarked towards Jeffery’s Ledge where we encountered Pinball, Sedge and Mogul. These three humpbacks weren’t quite together, but also never too far away from each other. They constantly crossed paths and zigzagged around our boat. It was tricky to keep up with these three data wise, but a fun trip with plenty of close approaches! A few bubble nets would randomly pop up, a clear indication these whales were busy eating. After a brief spotting of a harbor porpoise, we made our way back towards land, excited to see what the afternoon trip would bring.

-Bruna & Sulmaan

11:00 am Whale Watch Sightings

The Aurora set out for the 11 am whale watch in wonderful conditions, and we made our way to the Southwest Corner of Stellwagen Bank. On our way there, we were surprised by a pair of humpback whales in the vicinity of Minuets Light! One of these 2 juvenile humpbacks wanted to make its presence known by breaching, which most definitely caught our attention! We spent some time with these two, who were taking very short dives and travelling sporadically around us. We started to feel some rain drops and decided to move on when one of these individuals again surprised us with a tail breach, before we slowly continued our journey to the bank. When we reached the bank, the skies had cleared, and we were pleased to see blows scattered throughout the area. We started our trip with Downsweep, a humpback whale who was taking short dives around the fishing fleet. We moved on to a pair of humpbacks, who turned out to be a couple fan favorites, Nile and Scylla! These two have been hanging around each other for a while now, and it was great to see them still cruising along together, as they lazily travelled below the surface. We were excited by some flipper slapping, and made our way back over to Downsweep, who immediately stopped this surface behavior, and switched back over to lazy subsurface logging. Downsweep approached our right side very closely, and the beautiful sea conditions allowed us to get some incredible looks, and really appreciate the magnitude of these magnificent animals. We had run out of time, and were about to start heading home, when a breach at 12 caught our attention. We hesitantly kept our eyes that way to see what would happen next and were so excited when a second humpback began to breach! We made our way over, and were in awe at this pair of humpbacks, as they continued with incredible surface behaviors, between the two of them they likely breached over 10 times, once right off of our port side, and continually flipper slapped between breaching. These two turned out to be Tongs and Tornado, two veteran female humpbacks. Their surface-active behaviors did not only catch our attention, but also the attention of another humpback, named Ebony, who joined up with this pair as their behaviors started to slow down. We unfortunately had to make our way back to Boston and said goodbye as these 3 humpbacks fluked behind us.

Overall a truly fantastic day on Stellwagen Bank!

-Sydney

12:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Sanctuary, the 12pm whale watch headed towards the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales and other marine life.  As we entered the area, we saw several scattered blows.  We started on a sleepy mom and calf pair who turned out to be Touchdown and her 2021 calf!  These two were logging at the surface which allowed us to get some great looks at the size comparisons between mom and calf.  We then got some quick looks at Freckles the humpback who surfaced right next to the boat a few times!  We then got a brief look at another humpback who turned out to be Ebony.  We got a drive by look and a pair of humpbacks, who turned out to be Nile and Scylla, before we had to head back to Boston.

-Colin

2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The 2:30pm trip went in a different direction and headed towards the southern end of Stellwagen Bank. We encountered several blows in the area, in total we estimated about 10-14 humpback whales. We spent our trip drifting around and enjoyed the company of several of these individuals, a few of which were able to identify as Downsweep, Tongs, Tornado, Freckles, Music, and Touchdown and her 2021 calf! Most of these whales seemed to be busy feeding with large bubble nets, a few surface lunges and Music even surprised us all with a big breach! It was truly a fantastic day to be on the water and even the afternoon rain showers couldn’t dampen our spirits as we made our way back towards the city.

-Bruna & Sulmaan

3:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Aurora made its way out to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales. We made our way into an area with blows all around, making us feel like we were in the midst of some “whale soup!” We started out with a humpback whale named Tongs, who was feeding, blowing bubble clouds and even surfaced mouth open in front of us! As we continued through the area, we spent time with more humpbacks, including Downsweep, Freckles, Nile and Scylla, the last two giving us multiple close approaches while they blew bubble clouds. Despite the impending rain and fog, it made for a great afternoon on the water!

Until Next Time!

-David

  

5:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

The 5pm whale watch headed out towards the same area in hopes of similar great whale activity.  We spent time with 4 different humpback whales.  We got a brief look at Freckles before getting some looks at Downsweep the humpback.  We then moved on to a humpback whale named Tongs who was blowing bubble clouds and even lunged up through them!  One time Downsweep came up with Tongs before sneaking off, potentially trying to steal fish from Tongs.  We got some great looks at Tornado the humpback whale before we had to head home.  Overall, it was a really fantastic day on the water!

-Colin

  

7/18/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

 

The Aurora headed out to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank in hopes of beating the rain and seeing whales. We accomplished both goals, skirting in and out of multiple rain showers while staying dry during our time with several humpbacks. We watched as a single humpback snoozed at the surface between some fluking dives and then headed over to visit Freckles as she blew a few bubble clouds as she zipped around. Finally, we rounded out our trip with humpbacks on either side of the boat and had our last looks of the day with Tornado. The photos in this email are a little bird heavy as they were extra photogenic today! Wilson’s storm petrels, shearwaters, gulls- it was a great day to be on the water!

 

-Laura L., Mira, and Madeline

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

What an absolutely phenomenal and special day on the water.

On the 11am whale-watch, the Asteria headed towards the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. We spotted multiple blows in the area, and first spent time with Nine who was busy blowing bubble clouds and feeding. We then noticed a much smaller whale in the area who had begun to flipper slap and headed towards this surface-active whale. We found ourselves with Nine 21 Calf, who put on a show! This whale flipper slapped non-stop – smacking the water every couple of seconds. This whale flipper slapped in a peculiar way, sometimes slapping itself instead of the water. At other times this whale would attempt to lift its head out of the water and slap at the time – a very silly movement to see this little whale attempt.

All the surface activity drew mom’s attention, and the pair soon joined up. This mom and calf never left Asteria’s side, staying extremely close to our vessel. It was amazing seeing this gigantic mom slowly swim under the surface. The calf became very curious of our vessel, often rolling over – giving us some absolutely amazing looks at its eye. The calf seemed just as curious with us as were with it!

The surface activity caught the attention of multiple whales in the area, and we spotted 2-5 other humpback blows! Freckles made a close appearance – as if to see what all the slapping was about!

-Kate

12:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

Aboard the Sanctuary for the 12 p.m. whale watch, we made our way across slightly choppy seas and foggy skies, arriving on the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank to a pleasant change! The clouds parted, the seas settled, and soon, we could see blows all around us! We started our day with a solo humpback whale, who was logging at the surface. Soon, Touchdown and her 2021 calf emerged from the depths, and Freckles surfaced not too far behind! Another single humpback, Ebony, wandered into the area, moving quickly in a manner that suggested she was on the hunt. We then spotted a whale ahead of us, with a tiny pectoral flipper waving in the air. We headed that way and met up with Nine and her 2021 calf! The calf treated us to bouts of flipper slapping, rolling, and of course, some bubble blowing! When Nine rejoined her calf at the surface, the pair traveled slowly for a bit, before Nine erupted into a tail breach! The calf followed suit with a chin breach, and the pair wowed us with some surface activity, before resuming their rest and taking fluking dives. We ended our trip with an approach from Touchdown’s calf, before we reluctantly returned to Boston.

-Ashlyn 

2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today the Aurora headed out from Boston in search of whales. We were delighted to see a plethora of animals! As we approached Stellwagen Bank, we could see a whale slapping its pectorals against the water in the distance. We then spent time with Tongs, Ebony, and Freckles who joined and separated during our time with them. At one point one of those three whales breached!

 

It was exciting day on the water, and we happily returned to Boston.

Best,

-Mira

3:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The 3:30 headed towards the southwest corner again, hoping to try our luck again. We quickly found 15BH29, a frequently seen whale this season and affectionally nicknamed Chunk. This whale was taking longer non-fluking dives, so we turned our attention to the white water spotted in the distance.

We found ourselves in the middle between Music and Pitcher, who seemed to be in an epic flipper slapping duel. After watching the calf this morning flipper slap – it was utterly impressive to see these large adults slam their 15-foot-long flippers against the water. Pitcher even went completely on its back, and we got to see both flippers come out of the water at the time. After both whale’s flipper slapped at the same time – these whales then began to full body- breach. It was amazing to see multiple breaches very close to the boats. After more bouts of flipper slapping and breaching, the whales seemed to tire themselves out and we continued on to more blows in the area. We found Nine 21 Calf logging, and Nine close by. These whales were moving very slow at the surface, until the gigantic Diablo showed up right between mom and calf. These two adults exchanged multiple trumpeting exchanges and began to tail breach. While the adults were busy, the little calf stayed right by our boat – rolling on its back and letting us see its eye again.

What an absolutely amazing day on the water!

-Kate

5:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

For the 5 p.m. whale watch, we set our course for the same spot and discovered Tongs lunge feeding with a second whale! We got some awesome looks at this pair blowing bubbles and lunging, before they slowed down their activity and began traveling north. We then met up yet again with Nine and calf, the latter who was continuing to roll around in the waves and flipper slap. This time, we noticed that its’ eye was wide open, almost as if it was watching us as well! Diablo joined this pair for some time, and as their social structure began to change we decided to check out another pair of humpbacks. This pair turned out to be Ebony and Tornado, who were logging quietly at the surface. After two fluking dives, it unfortunately time to head back to Boston, our sturdy group of passengers braving the rocking and the rolling on another fantastic sunset adventure.

Flukes up!

-Ashlyn

 

7/19/21

 

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

We boarded the Aurora for the 10 a.m. whale watch and headed for the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Making our way across some very dense fog, we collectively sighed with relief when some of the fog cleared and we had a fantastic view of our surroundings on our arrival to Stellwagen! Our first sighting was of 2-3 minke whales, who were darting around the area looking for food. A few times, one particular minke whale swam by our vessel, our  keen passengers eagerly spotting this whale each time it came up! Ahead of us, we noticed a pair of humpbacks, Touchdown and her 2021 calf! They were lazily hanging at the surface, and the calf surprised us with a close approach off our port side! We witness some beautifully synchronized fluking dives, before spotting a very floppy dorsal fin up ahead. We were able to check out two mola molas, something that our passengers were all very excited to see! I heard from several individuals that a sunfish sighting was on their bucket list, and they certainly were not expecting to see one today. Not long after, we were met with a sudden rain shower, and some fast moving fog, limiting our visibility once again. We took this as a sign that it was time to head back to land, and we headed home, another day well spent on Stellwagen Bank!

Flukes up!

-Ashlyn and Allie

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The 11am whale watch headed out on the Asteria towards the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Moving through dense fog, we were able to find a multitude of minke whales! There were between 6-10 minke whales, the most I’ve seen since the spring, and we were treated to close approaches and lunge feeding. We then noticed a very small fin at the surface and made our way over, thinking it could have been a shark. To our surprise, we found the tiny dorsal of Touchdown 21 Calf. This little calf was logging at the surface, and mom soon joined. It was so impressive to see the size difference between these two whales. Mom and calf eventually woke up, and we go to see the cutest little fluking dive from the calf!

We then made our way over to another mom and calf pair spotted in the area, Nine and Nine 21 Calf. Nine’s calf stayed at the surface for the entirety of our sighting, while mom took longer fluking dives. It was very cute watching this little whale bob up and down in the waves, and we were able to seem some cute rolls, one very lazy flipper slap, and even a tail breach from the calf!

Despite some heavy rain, we had great sightings of these mom and calf pairs!

-Kate

1:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Sanctuary, the 130pm whale watch made its way towards Stellwagen Bank in search of whales and other marine life.  After some searching we stumbled across Nine the humpback whale and her 2021 calf.  These two were logging at the surface.  We got some really great looks at these two whales as the calf rested at the surface with mom not too far away.  We started to see a few other whales in the area so we decided to check them out.  We got some brief looks at Tongs and Tornado, who gave some beautiful fluking dives.  We finished the trip with some great looks at Ebony who went on a dive close to the boat!  It ended up being a great day out on Stellwagen!

-Colin

 


Whale Sense Logo
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.
Center for Coastal Studies Logo
Boston Harbor City Cruises proudly contributes its data to the GOM Humpback Whale Catalog curated by Center for Coastal Studies.