Naturalist Notes 9-28-21 to 10-08-21

Whale Watch Dross 21 Calf Breach

Whale Watch Sightings 9/28/21 through 10/08/21

 

Please find the Naturalist Notes for the week of 09/20/21 to 09/26/21 from the onboard team of naturalists for our New England Whale Watching tour in partnership with the New England Aquarium. 

 

9/28/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The Asteria braved wind and rain and headed out for the 10am whale watch towards the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. After a few days of stormy weather- we were ecstatic to find Dross and Dross 21 Calf. While the calf was mostly logging during our trip, Dross stole the show! Dross blew perfect bubble nets around our boat, often surfacing right next to our pulpits (see photos). There were definitely many animals taking advantage of the productive waters – evidenced by some charging minkes, diving gannets, and circling behavior from Dross. Towards the end of the trip, calf joined mom – and we got some amazing close looks at this pair. We were also able to see a blue shark – what a great day to be back on the water after a few stormy days!

 

-Kate, Bruna, and Alexis

 

9/30/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

The fall weather is certainly here, as evidenced by the cold, blustery conditions in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary today. The Asteria made our way to the northwest corner and planned to begin our search at the location where the whales were watched on Tuesday, expecting to do a bit of looking around before actually finding them. Turns out, Dross and her calf were only 100 yards from that location! We watched as Dross blew continuous bubble clouds and surfaced near them while her calf swam about nearby, with a single northern gannet circling above keeping an eye out for some lunch (see photo). The whales’ rather predictable movements made it very easy to follow along where they would surface, so eyes were looking in the right direction when the calf surprised us with a sudden full breach! It was a fantastic way to round out a successful outing with our most familiar pair of the 2021 season and it will be interesting to see how much longer Dross hangs out on the northwest corner.

 

-Laura L., Colin, and Heidi

10/01/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

 

It was a gorgeous day for whale watching, and many gulls and gannets dotted the skies as we made our way to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. We encountered Dross and her calf, being their typical hungry self. The calf was napping at first but quickly woke up and dashed back towards mom’s side. Dross was feeding with her typical bubble clouds, and we enjoyed several fantastic looks as she made a few close approaches. Her calf stayed close to her side, often diving under her tail, perhaps in an attempt to nurse. We went for a bit of drive to see what else we could find and were pleasantly surprised to encounter Music and Pitcher! These two friends have been spotted together for most of the summer and it was great seeing them again. They stayed at the surface for some time, and we made our way back towards land after a final fluking dive.

 

On a personal note, this was my last whale watch as a Naturalist and it is hard to put into words how special and incredible working here has been. I’ll miss these whales and especially this crew! Till next time.

 

-Bruna, Kate, Sulmaan & Anna

10/02/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

Today aboard the Asteria, the 10am whale watch made its way towards the Northwest Corner of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales and other marine life.  On the way out we discovered a good size pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphin!  After some great looks at them, we made our way towards the bank.  We got into the area and spotted a couple of blows in the distance.  It turned out to be Dross and her 2021 calf.  We got some really great looks at both individuals who were performing some very beautiful fluking dives!  Dross was doing her usual blowing bubble clouds and lunging up near the surface.  After some great looks at them we had to head back to Boston.  We got some brief looks at that pod of dolphins on the way back in too.

-Colin and Sulmaan

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

 

The Aurora started the search for whales on the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. It was not long before we spotted some spouts ahead of us. We instantly recognized these two humpback whales as Dross and her calf! While Dross was busy feeding a short distance away, her calf was peacefully resting at the surface next to our boat. This allowed us to get some fantastic looks at this youngster. With a cute little wiggle and roll, the calf woke back up and swam back towards its mother. After watching Dross blow some bubble clouds nearby, we started heading south. Before long, we spotted another humpback whale. This lone animal was a 34-year-old male named Brine. He was traveling at a pretty good clip, but not before passing us and lifting his tail up for a nice deep dive. With this, we trekked further south, but not for long. Another humpback soon graced us with her presence, a well-known female named Tripod. We got some great looks at her taking some short dives, and even doing one lazy tail breach before continuing on her way! As she traveled away from us, we continued south, approaching the southwest corner, before ending our trip with two more humpback whales. One of these whales was a female named Bounce, and the other has yet to be identified. The whale in question had a series of older propeller scars running down its side, a reminder of the threat of vessel strike these whales face every day. As these scars were healed over, however, we were happy to see this whale was one of the lucky survivors. These two were taking some short dives, and Bounce even came over and gave us a quick lookover before the two whales dove again. With that, we turned back and headed for Boston. It was a crisp, gorgeous October day on the water!

 

-David & Anna

 

 

2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

The 230pm whale watch made its way towards that area in the hopes of similar luck to the 10am.  We found Dross and her calf who were being awesome again, even coming up right next to the boat a few times!  After some more great looks at Dross and her calf, we decided to go for a little bit of a ride.  After some searching, we spotted several blows in the distance.  It turned out to be a group of 4 humpback whales consisting of A-plus, Brine, Crown, and Tripod!  This group was taking short dives and kept doing these very high and beautiful fluking dives.  At one point we were even treated to some flipper slapping from A-plus!  After one more set of beautiful fluking dives we had to head back to Boston.  It was a really awesome day out on Stellwagen!

 

-Colin and Sulmaan

10/3/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

What a lovely day on the water! The Asteria headed out on the 10:00am whale watch towards the midbank region of Stellwagen Bank. We spotted a few large blows, and soon found an association of three female humpbacks: Tripod, Crown, and Abyss. Exhibiting a behavior called social milling, this group of three were very interactive at the surface. There were a lot of interesting surface movements between the three, as well as a few trumpeting exchanges. One humpback repeatedly lifted her rostrum out of the water, almost spyhopping!

 

We then were able to witness a clear split of this association – as Abyss abruptly left Crown and Tripod after a series of noisy exhales. After this split, we then got to see Tripod go on a bout of flipper slapping!

What a great on the water,

 

-Kate and Laura

11:00am Whale Watch Sightings

 

This morning the Aurora headed out towards the Northwest corner of Stellwagen bank in search of whales, and we were certainly not disappointed! Our sightings began before we even left the Harbor with a quick look at a bottling harbor seal. As we journeyed towards the bank, we caught quick glimpses of a harbor porpoise and a minke whale, great signs of what was to come! When we did finally reach Stellwagen, we found ourselves surrounded by various species of marine mammals, with blows in all directions, and decided to start on a small pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. We got some great looks at this pod as they circled, greeting us with multiple close approaches, and porpoising frequently. We had noticed several blows in the area, and decided to sneak over to a logging Fin whale! This whale gave us some fantastic looks, allowing us to appreciate its truly magnificent size, and even gave us a close approach before sinking below the waves. We decided to move on to a pair of humpbacks we had noticed, but before we made it there we found 2 blue sharks! When we reached the area we had last seen the pair, we were surprised by an additional single humpback who turned out to be Music! While waiting for Music to resurface, the pair we had been looking for returned, and we found ourselves in the presence of Scylla and Salt! It was the first time I have ever seen Salt, who is of course a well-known and loved humpback being the first named in her population, so it was truly a treat to find her this morning. We followed these 3 humpbacks as they traveled North, where we happened upon a second fin whale! We got some looks at this fin whale, and as it dived we were treated to a huge breach from Music who seemed to pop out of nowhere! We got some quick last looks at these 3 humpbacks, before we decided to continue our search. We noticed some large splashing in the distance and found ourselves in the presence of Dross 21 Calf! This youngster surprised us with a spyhop, before proceeding to breach 3 more times! We got some brief looks at Dross, before we unfortunately had to head home to Boston, but not before another quick sighting of a pod of harbor porpoise. Overall an incredible multispecies day out on Stellwagen!

 

-Sydney and Ashlyn

2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings

There are lots of whales on Stellwagen Bank again, and the 2:30 trip had lots of variety in species, individuals, and whale behaviors. We started out watching Pitcher and Bounce logging side by side. Bounce preferred to stay beneath the surface a bit more than Pitcher, and we were a little surprised to see the change in dynamics with the absence of the frequently spotted Pitcher-Music duo. Music was actually not far away though- we spotted her within a mile from the other two but she was taking much longer dives, but aiming to visit her and another whale led us to the discovery of a fin whale! It was great to see the finback again after a long stretch without seeing one. We returned to get our final looks of the day at Bounce and Pitcher, who had livened up a bit and were making their way toward the other whales to the east. The beautiful weather and moody sunset made for a picture-perfect afternoon on the bank!

 

-Laura L. and Kate

 

10/07/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

After a few days of stormy weather, the Asteria headed out on the 10am whale watch towards the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Although experiencing some swells on the way out, we were met with glassy seas once we hit the bank. After a little searching, we found the ever reliable Dross and Dross 21 Calf. This pair was moving side by side, and we got some great looks at this mom and calf pair as they surfaced around the boat. At one point we got to see the calf nurse – encouraging a running joke that this “little whale” is the biggest calf on the bank this year. We also got to see Dross blow a few perfect bubble nets – with fish flying all around her as she surfaced. There was definitely evidence of a lot of fish in the water today – shown by a multitude of birds, jumping bait, two minkes, and a gray seal. We even got to see a breaching mola mola today (see photo for closeup!) – what a lovely day on the water!

 

-Kate, Alexis, and Heidi

10/08/21

10:00am Whale Watch Sightings

What a gorgeous day out on the water!

The Aurora headed out on the 10am whale watch towards the midbank region of Stellwagen Bank. We soon found Pitcher, a single female humpback who was taking very quick dives. We got some great looks at this whale before heading a little farther north. A very helpful passenger spotted a flurry of activity a few miles away, and we turned towards two humpbacks who were tail-breaching and lobtailing! As we got a little closer these whales calmed down, but we were very pleased to find not just two humpbacks but an association of four! We spent the rest of the trip with Brine, Crown, Tripod, and an unnamed juvenile, 21BH03. This group of four gave us some spectacular looks, surfacing all around the boat. They got so close that we got many many wafts of whale breath right in our faces! With gorgeous weather conditions this was certainly an awesome day on the water!

-Kate, Colin, and Sulmaan

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.