Naturalist Notes: 7/20/21-7/25/21

Whale Watch Nine Rainbow

Whale Watch Sightings For 7-20-21 through 7-25-21

Please find the Naturalist Notes for the week of 7-20-21 to 7-25-21 from the onboard team of naturalists for our New England Whale Watching tour in partnership with the New England Aquarium. 

 

7-20-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Wow, what a day! We headed out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and never actually made it to the shallow water of Stellwagen Bank itself when we found humpbacks Nile and Scylla resting alongside each other. We enjoyed some great looks at these two since they weren’t going anywhere fast before we decided to take a bit of a ride to the south and see if we could find any other wildlife. That turned out to be the best possible decision, even though we didn’t find any other large whales. A funny disturbance caught our attention and we found ourselves watching a leatherback sea turtle! The turtle remained at the surface for a bit before spinning around and heading back in the direction it had come from. The glassy conditions also allowed us to spot two harbor porpoise, a seal, and a myriad of birds. In addition to the wildlife sightings we confirmed, we saw lots of other creatures that caught our attention, but time dictated that we continue on (all day whale watch anyone?). It was a truly spectacular day to be on the water!

-Laura L. and Allie

 

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Aboard the 11am whale watch on the Sanctuary, we headed to the middle of the bank in search of whales. As we arrived, we saw a splash and two blows of two adult female humpbacks, Nile and Scylla. Nile and Scylla spent our entire sighting resting, perhaps the pair were taking a break from a long feeding bout. We even saw Nile do a “snake” motion, which is a way for her to take a stretch while resting (see photo). After spending time with this pair, we left to rest and continued our way north. We then found another humpback Music, who was also resting but instead hanging a few feet below the surface instead of logging like our earlier pair. At one point Music surfaced right next to our boat (while we were out of gear), and hung next to us for about 10 minutes – it was wonderful to see her whole body under the water!

-Laura H. & Alexis

1:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Aurora made its way to the middle of Stellwagen Bank in search of whale activity. We got some brief looks at a passing fin and minke whale before making our way over to two humpback whales, who ended up being Nile and Scylla. They were acting very strangely today, lazily hanging out at the surface and then occasionally going on some fluking dives. After a little bit of time, they approached us, with Nile giving us some extremely close approaches and tail breaches, and Scylla even joining in on a tail breach! After this brief display of energy, they once again slowed down. It was curious to see these whales surrounded by large bait balls the entire trip, yet not even acting remotely interested in them. However, as they gave us such good views, they appear to be very full and healthy! After some final great looks at our lethargic whales, we made our way home to Boston. It was a remarkable day on the water.

-David & Bruna

 

07-21-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

We journeyed to the middle of Stellwagen Bank in our search of marine wildlife today. We quickly encountered a small dorsal bobbing in the water and made our way over to Touchdown and her 2021 calf! The calf was logging at the surface, with mom also sleeping just under the water. We had fantastic looks at this sleepy pair before they woke up, dove and seemingly disappeared from sight. Several other blows dotted the area, and we made our way over to another mom calf pair. Dross and her calf were busy zigzagging around, the former would often surface in a slow lunge among bubble clouds, and at some point we even witnessed several fish jumping out of her way! Dross’ youngster tried to keep up with mom’s quick movements but would at times get distracted and wander away. A highlight of this trip was when the calf turned on its side and swam right towards a shearwater floating at the surface. The bird seemed equally interested in the young whale and even tried to land on his back (see photo)! We drifted around the bank and enjoyed several great looks of the other individuals in the area, including Diablo, Tongs, Pinball, and Freckles. Several minkes surfaced around us, one even making a few very close approaches, and a brief look at a gray seal made for an exciting multi species day!

-Bruna & Sulmaan

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

What a day! The 11am whale watch headed out on the Aurora towards Stellwagen Bank. We first spent our time with an allusive finwhale, and then headed over to an area filled with humpbacks!

We quickly encountered “whale soup” – no matter where we looked there was a multitude of blows! Humpback whales were popping up left and right – there was easily 7-10 humpbacks in the immediate vicinity. Each whale was going on very short dives and not traveling very far, it was amazing to see so many whales in a close area. These whales were busy feeding, evidenced by the occasional lunge and bubble cloud. We even got to see Pinball poop, another sign that these whales were definitely eating. We were able to identify, Freckles, Diablo, PinballTongs, and Pitcher – more will hopefully be identified later!

During this gorgeous day on the bank there were other signs of wildlife – including three lunging minkes and a heron!

We eventually had to slowly head back to Boston, what a wonderful and busy day on the water!

-Kate and Alexis

1:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Sanctuary headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales, and we were not disappointed. As we approached the bank, we were quickly greeted with many blows ahead of us. We settled on a pair of humpbacks, who turned out to be Dross and her 2021 Calf! Dross 21 Calf greeted us with some rolling, before joining mom below the surface. Dross displayed to us that she was busy feeding, with multiple bubble clouds and nets. Dross even surprised us with a bubble net right off of the left Pulpit! We tried to move on to see who else was in the area, but Dross and her calf kept popping up wherever we went! We spent the last few minutes of our trip with Tongs, who attracted us over with a large breach and then flipper slapping, before we unfortunately had to make our way back to Boston.

Overall, a great day to be on the bank!

-Sydney, Laura L., and Madeline

 

 7-22-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today on a blustery morning aboard the Asteria, we headed to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in search of whales. As we arrived to the middle of the bank, we spotted the big tall blow of a fin whale, steadily heading north. This particular whale treating us to very short dives, and appeared to be “surfing” along the chop. This fin whale was also clearly well-fed, defecating 4 times, one time big enough that it fluked while doing it! (see photo). If that wasn’t enough, later on the whale rolled on the surface while riding a wave, exposing its whole right side to us!

We wrapped up the trip with Tongs and Scylla, and a distant look of a mom calf pair in the distance. A great day on the water!

-Laura H. & Heidi

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Aurora, the 11am whale watch headed out towards the middle of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales and other marine life.  Through the bumpy seas we spotted a few blows in the distance.  It turned out to be a trio of humpbacks whales who happened to be Dross, her 2021 Calf, and Tongs!  These three were taking short dives and not moving very far.  The adults were blowing bubbles, most likely feeding just beneath the surface.  The calf got very curious of the adults, spy-hopping right next to a bubble cloud right after mom and Tongs came up through it.  This trio even came up and dove right next to the boat several times!  After some beautiful fluking dives we had to head back to Boston.  It was a really awesome day out on Stellwagen!

-Colin

 

7-23-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The 10am whale watch headed out on the Asteria towards Stellwagen Bank National Sanctuary. We quickly found Touchdown and Touchdown 21 Calf. These whales were cruising at the surface and covered quite a distance while we were watching them. Despite moving fast, Touchdown’s calf was at the surface almost the entirety of our sighting, with mom traveling just under the water. We were able to get some phenomenal looks of this little mom and calf pair.

We then headed south to more reports of marine wildlife and found a single adult humpback with Dross and Dross 21 Calf. Dross and calf were taking very quick, shallow dives, and not traveling far from our boat. Dross’s calf looked huge compared to Touchdown’s Calf, and it was really cool to see the differences between these two mom and calf pairs.

What a great day on the water with gorgeous weather conditions!

-Kate and Sulmaan

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The 11am excursion travelled towards the middle of Stellwagen Bank where we quickly encountered Dross and her calf. Mom was busy feeding as evident by her many bubble nets and her youngster mostly stuck close to her side. The calf seems very intrigued in Dross’ feeding technique, often circling around the large patch of bubbles and even blowing a few bubbles himself! We were treated to multiple close approaches as the whales would sometimes surface and then turn right for our boat. Perfect sea conditions allowed us to get fantastic looks at these animals and on one of these occasions, we could even track their movements as they dove right under our bow! Another humpback whale was in the area and we eventually made our way to say hi. Freckles surfaced once with a large bubble cloud, however the next time she surfaced she was quite a distance away and instead Dross popped up next to our boat. We spent several more moments with Dross and her silly calf before making our way back towards the city. It was a fantastic way to spend a gorgeous afternoon on the water!

-Bruna & Anna

1:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Sanctuary headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank today in search of whales, and we were quickly greeted by some large splashes in the distance. We approached the area and found a pair of Humpbacks, Dross and her 2021 Calf! Dross showed us that she was busy feeding with many bubble clouds and nets, while the calf followed close behind, mirroring some of Dross’s movements. Dross and her calf also gave our passengers on the bow a nice dose of whale breath, as they closely approached the bow and travelled across the pulpits! We were getting ready to make our way home when another humpback, who turned out to be Freckles, popped up next to us likely coming after the same fish that Dross was busy feeding on beneath the surface. We got some bonus looks at these three behind us, as we slowly made our way back home to Boston.

Overall, a fantastic day on the bank!

-Sydney and Colin

07-24-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

What a beautiful day to be out on Stellwagen Bank!

The Asteria headed towards the middle of Stellwagen bank today for the 10 am trip, and we were surprised by some large splashing. We made our way over, and found two Humpbacks,  Dross and her Calf! Dross’s Calf delighted the passengers with repeated breaches, and lobtailing, showing off the diverse surface behaviors we can see from this species. While the calf was busy showing off, Dross was busy feeding! She was blowing large bubble clouds, visible from quite a distance, that helped to clue us in to what she was busy doing below the waves.

-Sydney, Anna, and Alexis

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Aurora, the 11am whale watch headed out towards Stellwagen Bank in search of whales and other marine life.  We spotted a pair of blows in the distance who turned out to be Dross and her 2021 calf.  The calf was a little bit away from its mother at first, but then the calf started to head over towards mom.  Before making being by mom’s side, the calf breached right next to the boat!  After this, we got some great looks at Dross who was doing these beautiful fluking dives and even lunged a few times through some bubble clouds.  After some great looks at this pair, we had to make our way back to Boston.

-Colin

12:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Sanctuary headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank in search of wildlife today. After a brief fin whale sighting, we came across two humpback whales, who ended up being Dross and her 2021 calf. We got some fun looks at these two, with Dross blowing some bubble clouds and the calf racing around energetically. Due to increased boater traffic around them, we continued to honor our whale sense commitment and began heading further south to give the whales some breathing room. We spotted a few more blows, which were more humpbacks, namely Nine and Freckles. Freckles was busy doing some subsurface feeding and Nine surprised us by coming up with a mouthful of food right next to us! It was an incredible approach! It was curious to see Nine without her calf at her side, but there were a few other whales scattered around the area, and we are hopeful that the calf was still nearby. We also had some minke whales zipping in between the recreational boaters, making for a three species day! With great looks and enthusiastic passengers, we made our way back to home. It was a great day on the water!

-David

2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The Asteria headed back to the middle of the bank for the 2:30 trip, in the hopes that the dazzling displays from the calf had continued, and we were not disappointed! Again, the calf was busy showing off for the passengers, breaching, lobtailing, and rolling around throughout the duration of our trip. Dross was closer to the calf in the afternoon but still busy feeding, blowing bubble clouds and nets, a few right off of the pulpits! One of her bubble nets was even interrupted by the calves breaching, and she had to move on to make another! We could have stayed all afternoon, but unfortunately ran out of time and had to make our way home to Boston.

Overall, a truly wonderful day on the bank!

-Sydney, Anna, and Alexis

3:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The 330pm trip headed out in the same area in hopes of finding the same great activity.  We came across the familiar pair of Dross and her 2021 calf.  The calf was continuing to be active at the surface, breaching, tail breaching, chin slapping, and rolling around!  Dross was also continuing to blow bubble clouds and lunge up through them.  As we were watching this mom and calf pair, we noticed some blows in the distance.  A very small whale popped up close to Dross and calf, and we were able to get some pretty good looks at it before it dove and disappeared.  We took a bit of a ride over to the other blow, and we had Music the humpback whale pop up right next to the boat!  She gave us a close approach before going on a dive.  After these great looks at the whales in the area, we had to make our way back to Boston.  It was a great day out on the water!

-Colin

 

5:00pm Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the 5 pm whale watch, the Sanctuary headed to midbank to see what wildlife we could find! We first spotted a cruising minke whale, who traveled at the surface and provided us some great looks!

We spotted some distant blows as we made our way closer, one of the humpback whales erupted in successive tail breaches! This humpback whale, Music, did a short bout of tail lobbing before going on a longer dive.

Yet, more splashing caught our attention as Dross’s 2021 calf leapt into the air! This calf breached repeatedly, perhaps trying to get attention from its mother who was about a mile away. We watched as this calf made quite a splash, until eventually travelling linearly to Dross. We watched as this pair traveled and fluked together, getting some excellent looks at this pair. Sadly, it was time to go home but we were treated to a beautiful sunset on our way back to Boston.

On a personal note, this trip was my last at a naturalist with BHCC and NEAq. I have so greatly enjoyed my time aboard the boats and have learned so much about marine mammals, conservation, research, and outreach. I am forever grateful for my experience here, and will take all I have learned into my next steps in graduate school. I could not have asked for a better last trip – breaching calves in the sunset!

-Chelsi

 

07-25-21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

We boarded the Aurora for the 10 a.m. whale watch and made way for the middle of Stellwagen Bank. Upon reaching our destination, we were greeted with two very large splashes! This pair turned out to be Dross and Dross 2021 calf! For the next hour, this pair wowed us with all sorts of surface activity, and I have to say that Dross certainly stole the show! From full spinning breaches to double flipper slapping, this Stellwagen regular displayed all of the activity we could imagine, all not too far from the Aurora! We were even treated to several double breaches, and for a brief moment, a quiet period of nursing. The calm didn’t last long though, with the pair resuming activity after the calf had its’ fill. With one last tail breach from Dross and a chin breach from the calf, we bid the pair goodbye, turning into the seas and making our way home.

Flukes up!

-Ashlyn and Allie

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today we boarded the Asteria and journeyed out into an adventurous sea as we headed to the middle of Stellwagen Bank. We were ecstatic to arrive with both Dross and her calf performing all sorts of surface behavior! We were privy to tail lobbing, tail breaching, chin breaching, and full breaches! As the rain and sea conditions got worse, the whales continued to be incredible! Even as we headed back to Boston, both whales were still tail lobbing bidding us goodbye and a safe trip home.

Watch on!

-Mira and Heidi


 

 

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