New Hampshires Favorite Day At Sea!
June  2017
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Sighting Reports

June 27, 2017

We ventured out today despite the forecast inland of t-storms and luckily we did! We ran into the same mom and calf pair of finback whales we had seen the other day when we had camera issues. I was so happy to finally get to document them! But as they did the other day they were up one minute and gone the next. We searched the area and they never seemed to surface near us again. This mom has found a sneaky way to leave the area and protect her baby from what she might consider a threat.

Mom up close, little baby peeking behind!

Mom up close, little baby peeking behind!

Mom closer, calf behind her

Mom closer, calf behind her

Next, we explored around to see if we could find Hornbill again today. And after some searching we did! He was behaving the same as yesterday, short shallow dives followed by longer deep dives. He was circling around the area presumably looking for lunch.

Hornbill the humpback

Hornbill the humpback

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A couple of minkes passed by in the meantime. Being 20 miles off shore and having some rain coming in we decided to start heading home. We hit some rain and clouds on the way home but our Captain Todd got us all home safely despite the storm.

In total today we saw 2 fin whales, 1 humpback and 3 minkes!

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June 26, 2017

Another beautiful day out on the water. We started the trip with some harbor porpoises and after heading out a few miles, found the first humpback of the week an old friend, Hornbill!
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We watched Hornbill for a while and kept an eye on another blow in the area. This blow belonged to Gondolier, a male humpback first spotted in 1992. We watched him for a while as well. Having him come up right next to the boat gave us amazing looks at this whale.

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We searched for another whale who’s blow we saw in the distance but it never re-surfaced. Still a great day with some humpbacks out on Jeffrey’s Ledge!

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June 25, 2017

It was a great day to be out on the water! Our naturalist just had one little tiny problem….her camera had an error come up on the first whale and refused to take any photos of today’s trip. Luckily, cell phones can capture pretty okay images so for today’s whole report you will have to bare with me as I show you what I got!

Frist, we started with a blow that our volunteer, Dan, pointed out. It belonged to a determined finback whale. It was determined to find food and was traveling around the area, usually away from where we were. We never did get very good looks at this whale until we had almost given up and it came up right next to the boat…this is when I discovered my camera was broken.

We had another fin whale in the same area so we decided to go look for it. We stumbled upon a minke whale and then our fin whales appeared! A mother and calf pair! Always great to see new whales being added to the population. We saw them do a few synchronized dives and then they disappeared.

Basking shark!

Basking shark!

We continued on eventually finding two different basking sharks and getting some cool looks at them! Since rain was treating the remainder of our trip we started heading home but we did have a scenic ride through the Isles of Shoals!

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June 24, 2017

We stayed on the dock yesterday due to some unfriendly storms on the coast but luckily today it was clear, sunny, breezy and flat seas. Our trip did start off with some fog, but that didn’t stop us from seeing some harbor porpoises before we even got to the Isles of Shoals. Once the fog cleared up we came across a feeding basking shark!

Basking shark dorsal

Basking shark dorsal

We got some great looks at the shark before venturing around to find some whales. We found a minke, who popped up next to the boat a few times giving us some great looks. After a little, we continued on in search for more.

Minke whale!

Minke whale!

We came to a few blows belonging to some fin whales. We got to look at a couple of them. A few times appearing just a few feet from our boat. It’s been a great summer for finbacks so far, they have been seen nearly every single day for a few weeks. Always a really cool thing to see the world’s second largest animal in the world swimming right along side the boat.

Finback whales

Finback whales

On our way back to the harbor we passed right by another minke whale which we watched as we made our way back to the harbor. Overall we saw 3 finback whales, 4 minkes, 2-4 harbor porpoises and 2 basking sharks. Beautiful Saturday afternoon well spent!

June 22, 2017

Wow – so much variety out there today!

We headed out to where we’ve had some whales over the past few days, and found a fin whale. It wasn’t spending much time at the surface, but we eventually got a good look at one of them and a quick look at a basking shark that passed near the bow!

Fin whale (see the chevron marking?)

Fin whale (see the chevron marking?)

We decided to head further offshore out to Jeffreys Ledge, and found a few more fin whales. We spent lots of time watching these huge, graceful animals. The whole time, we kept our eyes on some blows further in the distance.  We had a choice – to go back inshore and try to get some better looks at the whales there, or head offshore to investigate.

We decided to investigate, and were well rewarded!  The blow was from a humpback whale!  This was Gondolier, who was first sighted as an adult in 1992.  We got some terrific looks at Gondolier, who approached the boat several times and fluked right near us.

Gondolier

Gondolier

Gondolier's dorsal

Gondolier’s dorsal

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In addition to Gondolier, there was so much other life in this area – at least 3-4 fin whales, 4-5 minke whales, and yet another basking shark!  We were surrounded by whales, all of whom were spending plenty of time at the surface.   We did a plankton tow at one point and it was chock-full of copepods. It’s so neat to see this aspect of the food chain and the prey that the shark was likely feeding on.

Fishing for plankton

Fishing for plankton

We really got to experience the variety of life in this area today!  Thanks to everyone who joined us!

June 21, 2017

After a couple days at the dock due to rough seas, we were excited to get out on the water today!
The seas were calm, we had sunny blue skies and warm temperatures as we ventured offshore.  It wasn’t too long before we had our first blow – a fin whale! We spent some time watching this whale and then went further offshore.
Fin whale

Fin whale

As we cruised further out, we saw a large fin in the water. This was a basking shark, which soon turned into several sharks!  We had 4 basking sharks cruising around the boat, feeding on plankton.  We did a plankton tow and found the water sample full of copepods- tiny zooplankton that are food for a variety of species.
Not the best picture ever... but the light coloring is the inside of a basking shark's mouth!

Not the best picture ever… but the light coloring is the inside of a basking shark’s mouth!

Basking shark

Basking shark

We explored some more, and found at least 5 more fin whales! We got some great looks, including at one whale who I think we (Blue Ocean Society) first saw back in 1996!  This whale has a very distinctive dorsal fin.
Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale chevron

Fin whale chevron

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It was a great day out on the ocean, and hopefully our sightings are an excellent sign of the summer to come!
There's nothing like a nice nap on the way home!

There’s nothing like a nice nap on the way home!

June 18, 2017

It was a little bumpy out there today! But there was plenty of sunshine and nice, cool breezes to beat the heat onshore.

We cruised out toward Jeffreys Ledge and got a nice look at the Isles of Shoals as we passed through these nine historic islands. As we headed further out, the whitecaps kept fooling us into thinking we were spotting marine life. Finally, we did see a blow in the distance. This turned out to be a fin whale!

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As we headed over to the fin whale, we started seeing more blows in the area. There were at least 5 or 6 whales in the area. Thanks to some expert maneuvering by Capt. Brad, we got some great looks at two of the whales, while we watched the others spout in the distance.

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To be surrounded by 60+ -foot whales is always awe-inspiring! Thanks to the group from North Dakota and the other passengers on board for all your enthusiasm. We are glad you got to experience our local whales!

June 17, 2017

Every day is so different on the water.  We headed out today with a healthy swell making the ride a little extra entertaining.

White Island

White Island

About 18 miles out we spotted a spout.  This ended up being our 1st finback whale of the day. Finbacks are hard to wrap your brain around.  They are so big yet so very graceful and hydrodynamic.  It’s hard to appreciate their full length because they surface over a rather long period of time with at most 1/4 of their length exposed.

FIn whale dorsal

Fin whale dorsal

Hoof print created just after a whale dives.

Hoof print created just after a whale dives.

As we waited for the fin whale to come back up we had a super close and sneaky pass by from a minke whale.  Minkes are usually our most common baleen whale sighting but have been scarce this year.  This little whale came up right alongside the port side of the boat and then quickly dove.  If you were in the right spot you could see this whale’s white mittens on his pectoral flippers.  Such a treat!  No pictures:(  We also realized we had several fin whales in the area with at least 2 others nearby.

Head of fin whale...see the white lower jaw out on front?

Head of fin whale…see the white lower jaw out on front?

The conditions continued to improve while we watched these giant whales doing some rapid dives and foraging.  Next up we went to see a humpback whale.  This whale was also feeding and even came up right in front of the boat with a little bubblecloud!

Humpback!

Humpback!

We got some great looks at this whale who turned out to be an identified female born in 1990, Clamp.

Clamp diving

Clamp diving

Clamp's fluke

Clamp’s fluke

As we went to leave for Rye we had 2 basking sharks at the surface.  These are the 2nd largest shark reaching lengths up to 25′.  They are filter feeders are are great indicators of a productive food chain.

Basking shark heading away from us.

Basking shark heading away from us.

Basking shark dorsal

Basking shark dorsal

We also had some cool pelagic birds out there with Northern Gannets, Wilson Storm Petrels and even a shearwater.  Just a couple miles outside the harbor we had a 3rd Basking Shark!!!  So close.  Every day is different.

Once we’re back at the dock Mason watches a fishing line while the boat gets cleaned….he landed a striper with a little help.

Mason!

Mason!

Come join us for what’s next.  Happy Father’s Day!

June 15. 2017

We braved the choppy waters today to go find some whales. Since we knew they were close we sailed out in the white cap waters to find them. Luckily we did and we were rewarded with several finback whales. DSC_0064

We watched as many as we can, estimating 6-8 fin whales in the area. Having the second largest animal around us is always surreal! Join us this weekend for Father’s Day!

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June 14, 2017

Wednesday’s whale watch was filled with fin whales! Before we got to Jeffreys Ledge, we came into an area with at least 4-5 different whales. We spent a little time with fin whale #0402, before finding another well-known fin, #0282.  A minke appeared right off our bow, and more spouts were seen in the distance!

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Whales everywhere!  We then ventured out a little further, about 20 miles from Rye Harbor where we found a trio of fin whales!! This is a unique sighting since fin whales are usually by themselves, or spread out over a large area.  Having three of these huge whales all together was pretty amazing to see!Image00001 Image00003

June 13, 2017

Another successful day on the water!  It was 95+ degrees on land, but much more comfortable on the ocean, with calm seas that allowed for excellent visibility!

Fin whales were numerous again today. We got a quick look at a basking shark, but it wasn’t spending much time near the surface, so we moved on to some blows, and found 5 fin whales. We spent time with a single fin whale, and got some great looks as it circled around. The students aboard from Russell Elementary School got to see something we don’t see every day – whale poop!  It sounds kind of gross, but it also provides evidence that the whale was feeding on fish in the area.

Fin whale

Fin whale

Eventually, this whale joined up with another single fin whale in the area.  These pairings are interesting, as fin whales are typically solitary and we often don’t know the whale’s gender or why they swim together for short periods.

We then moved on to see another pair, and this was also an interesting sighting because it was the same pair we saw on Sunday – Blunt and friend!  Blunt was first cataloged in 1982, making this whale likely a minimum of 40 years old since it was an adult when it was first sighted. We haven’t identified Blunt’s friend yet.

Blunt (right) and friend

Blunt (right) and friend

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After some fantastic close looks at the fin whales, we headed out east to see what else we could find, and saw a minke whale – one of only a few we’ve seen so far this season!  At an average length of 20-30 feet, these are considered a small whale – and that smaller size is especially evident after you’ve already watched some fin whales After some great quick looks at this whale, it was time to head for home. We cruised through the Isles of Shoals and got a look at the beautiful scenery there before heading back to the harbor.

Minke whale

Minke whale

Thanks to Russell Elementary School for joining us today!

June 12, 2017

No better way to spend a hot summer day than miles offshore with some whales! Today on Captain Todd’s first whale watch of the season, we found quite a few blows after a short time exploring.

Captain Todd's first day whale watching!

Captain Todd’s first-day whale watching!

We had around 13 fin whales in the area and several minke whales as well. We started with a fin whale who was being a bit difficult and moving around the area with short surfaces. Since we had lots of options around we headed to a different whale.

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Later in the trip, we had a fin whale head straight to the bow of the boat before it must have realized we were floating there and decided to make a quick u-turn, right under the pulpit. I had never seen a fin whale that close up! You could see his eye and his tail pumping under the surface of the water. Definitely a treat!

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Second finwhale heading right to us

Second finwhale heading right to us

After spending some time with this whale and getting looks at a few others in the area, we headed to a new area where we saw a few more blows. There we found another finback whale who was taking longer dives.

Look at that chevron pattern

Look at that chevron pattern

Overall it was a fantastic day out on the water. We got to see so many blows, fin whales and minkes for a great trip out on the water. Join us DAILY at 1:30 PM for whale watching!

 

June 11, 2017

What a day! It was so great to get offshore and beat the 90-degree heat!
In addition to some cooler breezes, we had great whale sightings!  We found ourselves surrounded by fin whales. It’s always so amazing to see the second-largest species on the planet.  Despite weighing 50+ tons, fin whales are so graceful as they glide through the water.
Pair of fin whales!

Pair of fin whales!

We had an initial individual fin whale that was spending lots of time just under the water surface, but we got a couple quick looks at its back. We headed further east, where we found 5 more fin whales, including a pair that was together most of the time we were watching them, and approached the bow of the boat several times for some close looks!
We identified one of the whales in the pair as Blunt, a whale first seen in 1982 by Allied Whale researchers!  We’ve seen this whale in our area a few times, including in 2005 and 2010, so it is definitely an irregular visitor to our area.
Blunt, first seen in 1982

Blunt, first seen in 1982

The white lower jaw of one of the fin whales

The white lower jaw of one of the fin whales

One of the pair of fin whales

One of the pair of fin whales

The beautiful chevron marking of one of the fin whales

The beautiful chevron marking of one of the fin whales

We’re not sure who Blunt’s friend is, but will update this post if we happen to identify the whale. By the time we left the area, the two seemed to have split up and gone their separate ways.
In the area, there were 3 single fin whales, and we got closer looks at one of them.
Fin whale

Fin whale

In addition to the fin whales, there were a few seabirds around also taking advantage of prey in the area – we saw a juvenile northern gannet, a couple terns, and of course the ever-present black-backed gulls.
It looks like we have more warm weather ahead, and we’re now whale watching daily. Come join us!

June 10,2017

Just a sunny lovely day on the water today.  We headed out towards Jeffrey’s Ledge and soon had the signature tall blow of a fin whale in the distance. Once we got closer we realized that we had 1 fin whale close and at least 2 others in the immediate area.  Fin whales are a treat in part due to their superlatives.  They are the 2nd largest animal to ever live on the planet.  They are just enormous.  But graceful.  And fast.  And pretty.

Long back of a fin whale...blow dissipating in the air

Long back of a fin whale…blow dissipating in the air

We stayed in the area and were treated to some really close looks as 1 fin whale surfaced alongside the boat.  Whales have been photographed and catalogued in the Gulf of Maine for over 40 years.  This particular whale was identified as  Blunt (#0506).  A fin whale first seen 1982 and seen on Stellwagen, Mount Desert Rock, Scantum, Jeffrey’s Ledge.  Such a treat to be part of a  35 year old record of this animals life here in the Gulf of Maine.

White lower jaw

White lower jaw

It’s always hard to appreciate the size of a fin whale simply because they only show us a fraction of their total length when they surface.  We had such nice patient looks that we could easily see the white lower jaw on the right side glowing a green color through the water.  We watched as the head and blowhole broke through the surface and produced a spout.  Next, we saw the area behind the blowhole with the characteristic V-shaped markings used to help identify individual fin whales.  Then finally the dorsal fin located 2/3 of the way down the back.  Blunt was so close we could also see some orange spots on his flanks from algae (diatoms).

Blunt's dorsal fin

Blunt’s dorsal fin

We eventually left our 3 fin whales and went out a little farther to where we had yet another fin whale.

2nd close look at a fin whale

2nd close look at a fin whale

Whale exhalation rainbow.

Whale exhalation rainbow.

We sailed home with the blows of even more whales on the horizon around us.  On the trip through the Isles of Shoals I snapped a quick picture of one of the islands and you can just make out a seal hanging out at the high water mark.  We have both harbor and gray seals here in NH in the summertime.

Seal is just above the water line in the center of the island.

Seal is just above the water line in the center of the island.

With highs in the 90’s forecast for tomorrow and water temps in the 40s a whale watch will offer immediate AC.  Come join us!

June 9, 2017

Wow! There was so much life out there today. We could easily witness the food chain in action!
When got a bit offshore, we had an immediate choice to make – should we go look at a shark or a whale? Not a bad problem to have. We opted for the whale (it’s a whale watch, after all), and got some terrific looks at a fin whale. While we were watching the whale, the water surface was boiling with schools of fish jumping at the surface!
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Gull snatching a fish

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Fin Whale

After some great looks at the fin whale, we did get to see the shark.  This was a basking shark – the second-largest fish species in the world. These sharks can reach lengths of 30-40 feet. The one we saw was well over 20 feet long. Basking sharks feed on plankton. During our time offshore, we did a plankton tow and it was chock-full of copepods, zooplankton smaller than a grain of rice. These are a preferred prey for large animals such as basking sharks and even North Atlantic right whales.
Blue Ocean Society interns Kati and Lindsey checking out the plankton sample

Blue Ocean Society interns Kati and Lindsey checking out the plankton sample

We saw another blow and went to check it out, and were surprised to see two animals – a huge fin whale and her (comparatively) tiny calf!! At Blue Ocean Society, we only see a handful of fin whale calves in any given year, so this was definitely a treat. The 20-foot calf looked so small compared to its 60+ foot mom!   The mom and calf stayed near each other, and occasionally the calf would push its snout above the water as it surfaced, and we could get a great look at the beautiful coloration on the right side of its head.
Fin whale calf

Fin whale calf

Fin whale mom and calf

Fin whale mom and calf

In this spot, we also saw another fin whale a distance away and another blow in the distance, but the whale didn’t resurface.  We decided to look around some more, and found another fin whale.   After some great looks at this enormous whale, we headed further to the east where we had seen the mystery blow before.
The whale still didn’t materialize, but we saw more sharks!  At one point, we had 3 basking sharks around us, all feeding near the boat. Several times a shark would cruise past and we could see INSIDE its mouth while it was busy filter feeding!
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Basking shark

Basking shark

Throughout the trip, we continued to see bait fish schooling at the surface, with gulls occasionally gliding down to scoop one up.  What an amazing day!!
There’s plenty of life around – we’re whale watching all weekend and it’s going to be hot out. Come join us!

June 4, 2017

Today it took a bit of searching on the calm beautiful blue waters to find some familiar whales. We came across a blow and before we knew it there were several blows in the area. The first whale we got to see close up was Hornbill, a humpback we have seen since 1977.

Hornbill's fluke

Hornbill’s fluke

Around Hornbill was a finback whale and a minke whale. The minke whale was difficult to keep track of, but the fin whale stuck around for a while. Usually surfacing while Hornbill was down on a dive.

Hornbill diving

Hornbill diving

Finback whale

Finback whale

It’s always a fun trip when we get to see several species feeding near each other! Join us this weekend on Friday at 9:30 AM or Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM!

June 2, 2017

What a beautiful day for a trip! Thanks to Strafford School 5th graders and their chaperones for joining us today.
We cruised through the Isles of Shoals on the way out, and got some great looks at these historic islands.
White Island Light

White Island Light

We continued out towards Jeffreys Ledge, but before we got there, we saw a blow. This turned out to be a fin whale.
Fin Whale

Fin Whale

  This whale was a bit elusive  – we saw several spouts, but it was moving erratically and we didn’t get a very good look. So, we decided to continue on.
Basking Shark

Basking Shark

We were glad we did!  We soon found ourselves watching a huge basking shark!  We could see the large, triangular fin of this shark from a distance away, and it stayed at the surface as we approached.  These plankton-feeders are the second-largest shark species on the planet and can reach lengths of about 30-40 feet.
As we watched the shark, we saw some surface activity and moved a bit out to the east, where we found a sei whale skim feeding at the surface!  We got to follow the whale by its flukeprints as it traveled slowly under the water surface, and then got to see it open its gigantic mouth to feed!   There was at least one other sei whale in the area, with several others in the distance.

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Sei whale

Sei whale

We don’t get to see sei whales very often, so seeing these streamlined, 50-foot animals was a rare treat.
While we still had time, we decided to do some exploring. We saw a few blows, but decided to focus on one whale. This turned out to be a well-known humpback, Hornbill, who was first catalogued in 1977!!  We got terrific looks at Hornbill as he slowly swam around, apparently feeding. We saw several bubble clouds rise to the surface – he was apparently using these bubbles to trap the fish.

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Hornbill

Hornbill

We were sad to leave Jeffreys Ledge, but eventually had to head back to the harbor. On the way back, we saw yet another basking shark, and this one looked even larger than the first!  We could see both the huge dorsal fin and the top of the tail as this shark swam slowly at the surface.
All in all, it was a fantastic day, with 2 basking sharks, at least 2 sei whales (with others in the distance), a fin whale (probably more of those in the area, also) and a familiar humpback whale!
We’ll be whale watching this weekend  – come join us!

May 28, 2017

I know is sounds redundant…but such a great trip!  I am not sure where the sunny forecast of a day or so ago went.  We headed east towards Jeffrey’s Ledge with gray skies and a little bit of a chop.  When we came to a blow we found that there were really many whales spread out in basically every direction.  Our 1st close look was a smaller humpback whale that was surfacing unpredictably with 2 Atlantic white sided dolphins!  Every time the humpback surfaced so did the 2 dolphins.  Such a treat?!  We dont see that association very often and it was great to observe.  As that 1st humpback moved to the west we had a slightly larger pod of dolphins visible off the back of the boat and then a 2nd humpback dove letting us see its tail.  This whale was Pinball!  An old favorite and one of our adoptable whales.

Pinball's surprise surfacing!

Pinball’s surprise surfacing!

As we waited for either of the humpbacks to reappear you could see light blows just about everywhere.  The origin of these blows turned up almost under the pulpit of our boat when 2 sei whales surfaced in synchrony.  These are a rare sighting for us and a highlight.  Usually found offshore these whales skim feed at the surface and are known for their speed.   As they exhaled directly in front of the boat their breath washed over us verifying that yes they were feeding on something fishy:)  Did I mention the chop out there?  I was being a bit too careful with my camera and missed a great sei whale shot.  Oh well.  They are in my memory and sometimes that’s the best way to experience life.

Sei whale dorsal moving away from us.

Sei whale dorsal moving away from us.

We could still see blows all around but were quickly distracted by some surface active whales causing huge splashes a little farther east.  This ended up being a humpback whale calf and its much beloved and frequently sighted mother, Owl.  The calf was breaching, spy hopping, flipper slapping and chin breaching and just causing chaos at the surface while Mom responsibly fed below.

Partial breach of calf

Partial breach of calf

Humpback calf diving

Humpback calf diving

Calves are favorites for this reason.  They have to learn how to control their buoyancy and are relying on mom’s milk for food so they have lots of time and incentive to play.  The chop on the water also seems to encourage them to be more active.   This little whale and his mom made some close passes by the boat.  The calf came up vertically next to the left bow in a spy hop.  So fun.  Such an amazing blessing to witness so much activity from a wild animal.

Look at the 2 nares, openings to the blowhole! See the passenger's head at the bottom of picture:)

Look at the 2 nares, openings to the blowhole! See the passenger’s head at the bottom of picture:)

More calf white water

More calf white water

Owl! Notice the boat strike injury in front of her dorsal.

Owl! Notice the boat strike injury in front of her dorsal.

We eventually had to turn around and head back to Rye.  We passed the blows of so many sei whales on the way through.  A few miles to the west we had the big tall blow of a fin whale and watched from a distance as that whale went down for a dive.  The trip home was much more forgiving as we sailed home past the beautiful Isle of Shoals. What an amazing day.  So lucky.  We saw so many things that we tell people not to expect: dolphins, mothers and calves, breaching, interspecies associations, sei whales.  You just never know.  Come join us find out what the next surprise will be!

Mason fishing off the back.

Mason fishing off the back.

Star Island with a tall ship in port

Star Island with a tall ship in port

 

May 27, 2017

Wow! What an amazing trip to start Memorial Day weekend!
After cruising for awhile, we saw one blow from a large whale, and then started seeing more blows in the distance. Soon, there were whales everywhere we looked!
We started out with a few quick looks at a fin whale. That was enough to see how enormous this species is – the second-largest on the planet!  This whale seemed to be busy feeding, as it didn’t spend much time up at the surface.  We did get a nice look at this 60-70 foot whale off the bow before we continued on. Soon were surrounded by sei whales!
Fin whale - you can see the white lower jaw

Fin whale – you can see the white lower jaw

Fin whale

Fin whale

Sei whales only come into our area occasionally, presumably, when the prey conditions are right. These 40-50 foot whales feed on zooplankton, krill, schooling fish and squid. Today we were lucky enough to see them feeding at the surface!  While we stayed in one spot, the sei whales opened their enormous mouths at the surface and we could even see their baleen and the throat grooves that they expand while feeding. As we watched a trio of sei whales feed, we could see at least 2 more other groups of sei whales feeding nearby, all charging around at the surface!

Feeding sei whale with expanded throat grooves

Feeding sei whale with expanded throat grooves

Sei whale feeding (upper jaw and baleen are to the right, throat is to the left)

Sei whale feeding (upper jaw and baleen are to the right, throat is to the left)

Sei whale flipper

Sei whale flipper

The distinctive fin of a sei whale

The distinctive fin of a sei whale

We cruised out to yet another sei whale sighting, and also had a very rare sighting – a North Atlantic right whale!  These critically-endangered whales feed on the same prey as sei whales, so it makes sense that this whale was in this area. But with less than 500 of this species remaining in the world, it was still a big surprise.
As we looked around, we could see even more blows and got a couple more looks at sei whales before we headed home. The seabird life was plentiful today, too, with a number of adult and juvenile northern gannets, and even some phalaropes!  It’s hard to estimate the number of whales we saw today, as they were moving around so much. We probably saw the same whales multiple times. But there appeared to be at least a dozen sei whales in the area, along with at least one (but probably more) fin whales and that very special North Atlantic right whale.
We have trips scheduled for the rest of the weekend, and the forecast looks great for tomorrow. Come join us!
Congratulations to Fhabian on winning our whale adoption drawing today – enjoy your whale!  And welcome to the 2017 Blue Ocean Society interns, several of whom joined us for today’s trip!

May 21, 2017

What a gorgeous day!  Everything was in bloom as I drove to the harbor and there were reports of whales out on Jeffreys Ledge.  We started with the tall signature blow of a finback whale just a few miles past the Isles of Shoals.  This whale was staying down for 5+ minute dives and traveling quite a bit between breaths.  As we waited for the whale to come back up we had a second finback surface in the distance.  We quickly decided to head farther east to where we had reports of more animals.  There were so many birds out there today!  We had Northern Gannets all over the place.  These pelagic birds are just awesome to see as they cruise up 60′ or 70′ and then dive down into the ocean to feed on fish.Northern Gannet

Next up we had the shorter blow of a humpback whale.  This turned out to be a  a rather familiar humpback, HWC #0050.  Most of our humpbacks have names, but not this one…just a number.  This was the 50th whale entered into the Gulf of Maine humpback whale catalog and was 1st seen in 1976…making #0050 at least 41 years old.  We see this whale regularly on Jeffrey’s Ledge and frequently in the early part of the season.

0050

Again this whale was making repetitive dives and traveling a bit while down.  We did have one surfacing where we could really appreciate the pectoral flippers glowing green through the phytoplankton in the water.

See the glowing flippers?

See the glowing flippers?

We had a 2nd humpback fluke up in the distance while we watched #0050.  Eventually we headed a bit south and met up with a widely dispersed pod of Atlantic White sided Dolphins traveling with another finback whale.  Dolphins are always a treat and to have them associated with a finback whale was even better!  I failed to get a good picture of them surfacing in association with the fin whale:(

IMG_0062IMG_0063 IMG_0064We did have a nice close surfacing where we could see the white lower jaw of the finback glowing green through the water.  We eventually had to turn back towards Rye and home.  The trip back was great as we cruised by the Isles of Shoals.  3 species of whales today and fantastic conditions.  The season is in full swing.  We go out Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend….come join us…and Mason (the boat golden:)

Mason!

Mason!

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May 20, 2017

Whale watch season is finally here! After a long awaited 7 months, we got the most beautiful day out on the water. The seas were calm and clear, then sun was out and so were the whales!

We started our trip with a familiar humpback whale, #0050, who we’ve seen the last few summers. It was swimming around taking short dives and popped up right next to our bow at one point giving us some fantastics looks at the first humpback of the season! A minke also passed by us while we were waiting for #0050 to resurface.

#0050's fluke

#0050’s fluke

 

Sabot's fluke

Sabot’s fluke

Since there were several other blows in the area without even noticing, #0050 dove down and a different humpback whale came up. We ID’ed this whale as Sabot, a female first sighted in 1990. We hung out with Sabot for a little bit and then ventured off to two tall blows in the distance belonging to some finback whales.

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Crow in the back, #0354 up front

This pair was #0354 and Crow! They stuck together for as long as we watched them. Although fin whales are solitary animals sometimes they partner up for some cooperative feeding. There was another fin whale in the distance but unfortunately we didn’t get an ID.

At the end we saw 2 humpback whales, 3 fin whales and a couple of minkes. Not a bad start to the season! We hope to see you on the Atlantic Queen this summer!

 

May 12, 2017

We have arrived back in Rye Harbor after a long winter of maintenance and updates on the Atlantic Queen II.  We have completed our U.S. Coast Guard inspections and are now good to go for our opening day of whale watching on Saturday May 20th. Word from the local fishermen is that the whales are out front in large numbers. Let’s hope that is a sign of a great season to come! We will be running whale watches on Saturdays and Sundays (plus Monday May 29, Memorial Day) at 1:30 pm. Daily trips begin on June 10 at 1:30 pm. You can call ouroffice for reservations at 603-964-5220 or book online thru this site!