Naturalist’s Notebook: October 03 to October 09
Thu 23 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Uncategorized — admin
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*October 03 and October 04 were spent riding out the remaining hours of the storm.
* The rough, choppy water did not deter the enthusiastic passengers on October 05 who delighted in close views of a finback whale and a half dozen humpback whales. Nor did it detract from their excitement at seeing the breaching minke whale.IMG_1878-8-28-br-minkeIMG_1882-br-minke-8-28
* By October 6, the wind and the seas from last week’s storm had subsided, leaving light southwest winds and a slight swell. These were accompanied by a bright sky that made for a beautiful day on the water. Minke whales and humpbacks were seen throughout the day, including a female named Milkweed and her 2014 calf. And also, Salt. The Grand Dame of Stellwagen Bank has been seen every year since she was first photographed and named in 1976. In the afternoon, Milkweed’s calf was observed blowing bubble clouds and even what appeared to be bubble nets while kick feeding. It is about the time of year that female humpbacks would be teaching thier calves to hunt for themselves, as the period for nursing is coming to an end. By the end of the calf’s first year, its mother with have taught it everything it needs to know to be a whale. She will have taught it everything that we try to teach our children in their first fifteen or twenty, or in some cases forty years.
* Minke whales, finback whales, and humpback whales were all spotted on October 07. Even with the growing wind and rising seas some very good looks were enjoyed of Nile and her calf and Milkweed and her calf.

A small minke whale breaks the surface

A small minke whale breaks the surface

A fin whale surfaces

A fin whale surfaces

Humpback flipperdragging humpbacks
* The blustery continued on October 08. That did not interfere with the Dolphin 8’s efforts to spot whales. Nearly a dozen humpback whales and a minke whale were found, to the delight of the passengers. There was some kick feeding and a few bubble nets, but for the most part the whales were just zipping around beneath the surface on the southwest corner of the bank.
* A number of mother and calf pairs were sighted on October 09. Nile, Milkweed, and Wizard and their young of the year were all present. In addition, there was a great deal of feeding, including the blowing of bubble nets and kick feeding.


Naturalist’s Notebook: September 26 to October 02
Thu 23 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Uncategorized — admin
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* It was an afternoon of feeding behaviors on September 26. Old favorites, like Salt and Tear and Nile her involved in both kick feeding and bubble-net feeding. At times, the schooling fish could be seen jumping clear of the water, attempting to get away from the gaping mouths of the humpback whales. Those open mouths followed them through the surface of the water to the delight of the passengers of several afternoon whalewatch trips.
open mouthOPEN MOUTHOpen mouth
* September 27 began quietly with the first sightings being of Nile and her calf logging, or resting at the surface. It didn’t take long for the calf to become a little more active, launching itself nearly free of the water. Salt was sighted again today, as well. Epsom was, once more, not seen with her. There were also sightings of other old favorites like Apex and Scratch. And a number of finback whales off the Race.
* The passengers of the Dolphin 8 were lucky enough to see Sundown and Norhtstar. Sundown was blowing streams of bubbles that had nothing to do with feeding. In the words of the naturalist, ” like a shield.”
* There were, again, a number of humpback whales on the southwest corner of the bank on September 28. One of the vessels reported seeing Nile’s calf tail-breaching. Another reported a curious boat approach by a whale named Colt. This animal is well-known for his interest in whalewatching boats, surfacing and spyhopping on either side of the vessel before going back underneath it to cross to the other side. This encounter lasted a good quarter of an hour today and, at one point, the whale was laying beneath the boat with its head out off one side and its tail out off the other.
* There was more feeding on September 29. Both humpback whales and minke whales were lunging at the surface, the humpbacks blowing intricate nets of bubbles to corral the small fish into tighter pockets before lunging through them with their mouths agape. Several of them were also raising their flukes out above the surface and slapping the surface with the flat of their tails to creat an area of disturbance that would scare and confuse the fish.
* The Dolphin 10 also reported the sighting of an ocean sunfish or mola mola.
Mola mola
* And the Dolphin 9 reported seeing Pinch kick-feeding.PINCH KICK FEED_9-29_IMG_7211
* The big news of the week would have to be the beautiful, big storm that kept the Dolphin Fleet boats tied to their floats from September 30 through October 04.


Naturalist’s Notebook: September 19 to September 25
Sun 12 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Uncategorized — admin
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* A little more of the windy and cold weather for September 19. That did not prevent the Dolphin X from travelling to the SouthWest Corner for views of a dozen humpback whales. With the choppy seas, today was not a day for feeding. The humpbacks were moving into and out of large groups that changed constantly. The highlight of the day was definately that way that the calves reacted to the big seas. Several spent time tail-breaching and flipper-slapping. There were even a few breaches.TORNADO 14 CALF TB_9-19_IMG_2764
*The above is an example of how Tornado’s calf was affected by the chop.

* September 20 was also a day for watching humpback whales. The calves again were the most active of the whales, spyhopping and approaching close to the vessels. But Pele, as if not to be outdone by the young ones, breached just off the bow of the Dolphin 8. ININITY BREACH_6-30_IMG_3056

* Imagine forty tons of muscle and bone and blubber being propelled through the surface of the water and into the air by a tail more than a third the length of the animal’s body and so strong that it only took three sweeps of it to carry this bulky creature into the air. Now imagine that two of these animals are doing this together. That was the highlight of September 21.

* If September 20 was mostly about the calves, September 22 was about large adult whales being active at the surface. Tail-breaching by Pele. Lob-tailling by Pitcher. And breaching by Pepper.
*And of course there was a little bit of feeding, like the above photo of Piano kicking her flukes above the surface to corral small fish before diving and lunging through the school.

* With a bit of turn of the weather, September 23 was bright and clear. The breeze came from the northwest and brought up a sea of about 2 or 3 feet. The humpback whales were again on Stellwagen Bank. In addition, a finback whale was spotted along Race Point Beach. This whale doesn’t have a name yet but is known as 12065. The first two digits indicate that it was first photographed in 2012. Good looks were enjoyed of both species.
* In the afternoon, the winds shifted to the southwest and a finback was also seen off of Race Point
Beach. This one was one known as Pinch. Pinch and 12065 are regularly seen during May and June but not so much at this time of the season. Also, both of these whales were part of a group of finbacks that spent a month in 2013 close to Plymouth in the mornings before moving moving to Race Point in the afternoons and then on to the southwest corner of the bank in the evenings.
* The humpbacks were spending the early part of the day logging (resting) and the afternoon feeding deep beneath the surface. Both species allowed wonderful looks.

* September 24 was an incredible day of feeding humpback whales. Truth is, I think the photos speak for themselves.

That was the story on September 25.
9-25_ feeding_IMG_3992
* And then there was the sunfish.