Whale Sightings 4/10/22 to 4/11/22
Please find the Naturalist Notes for the weekend of 4/10/22 to 4/11/22 from the onboard team of naturalists for our New England Whale Watching tour in partnership with the New England Aquarium.
04-10-22 10am Whale Sightings
What a wonderful morning we had aboard the Sanctuary for the 10 a.m. whale watch! We headed to the Northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank, almost immediately spotting the blows of two humpback whales! We met up with Sundown and a second whale, the former who demonstrated the basics of kickfeeding for us! Sundown would take one strong kick, and emerge with pleats expanded, dragging at the surface for a few moments. As this pair went down, we noticed another whale in the area, which turned out to be a large fin whale! With the fin whale was a pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins, and as the dolphins began to slow their movements and circle the area, we could tell something was happening below. Soon after, the fin whale emerged just off of our starboard side, heading straight for us as it lunged through the school of fish! It’s not every day that the opportunity to see the entirety of a fin whale presents itself, and we most certainly enjoyed that moment. We even got to witness the size and power of its’ tail, a body part of the fin whale we see almost never! Not to be outdone by this incredible encounter, a humpback whale named Mars emerged right in front of us, mouth wide open! She provided us with a wonderful look, moving slowly towards us before lifting her large, weathered tail up for a pristine fluking dive. We slowly began to make our way out of the area, with some dolphins still in tow, and headed back toward Boston, having enjoyed a super exciting whale watch.
Ashlyn and Kate
4/10/22 2:30pm Whale Watch Sightings
The Sanctuary headed out on the 2:30 whale watch towards the Northwest Corner of Stellwagen Bank. Before even reaching the sanctuary, we found a large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. These dolphins seemed to be feeding – slowly circling and moving at the surface. After getting some great looks at these animals, we continued towards the bank and quickly found a pair of humpbacks that included Monarch. However, our attention was soon captured by a flurry of surface activity – and we spent the remainder of the trip with Crown and Highball. Crown was incredibly active – flipper slapping and rolling for long bouts at the surface. Numerous times she rolled entirely on her back, so we got to see both flippers at the same time! Highball spent less time at the surface, and surprised us when they spyhopped right next to Crown.
What a great way to end the day!
Kate and Ashlyn
Whale Watch 4-11-22 10am whale watch
We made our way out the NW corner of Stellwagen in some blustery winds, but it was certainly worth it! As we first approached the corner, we saw several scattered blows of humpbacks, with gulls and gannets swarming all around them. In the midst of this was a surprise look of a North Atlantic Right Whale, our first sighting this season. Every spring this time of the year is a Seasonal Management Area (a slow zone) to protect right whales, and the cryptic behavior of this right whale today helped remind us why those protections are so important. All North Atlantic Right Whale Sightings observed on our vessels are reported to NOAA. After waiting for the Right Whale to pass, we made our way to several kick feeding and bubble net feeding humpback singles and pairs, spread out for over a mile. We shortly were surrounding by birds, blows, and bubbles! If that wasn’t enough, we spotted 3-4 lunge feed fin whales, a minke, and at least 30+ grey seals! It was a great opportunity to directly compare different species and behaviors. We spent most of our time with Pixar and Rhino 13 calf bubble net feeding. Pixar spent a lot of time “dragging” at the surface, meaning he was filtering water out of his mouth at the surface. You’ll often see gulls take a rest on their head when this happens! (see photos). Also as you may have learned from our past email sightings, the grey seal population has been on the rise the past decade. Today I saw what I could only describe as a “gang” of seals – a group of about 10 seal traveling together, in the midst of the feeding frenzy. An awesome day!
Laura H. and Ashlyn