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Naturalist’s Notebook: May 03 to May 08

2014moreseals* The morning of May 03 found, once more, harbor seals hauled out on Long Point. And, though humpback whales were seen in the afternoon, it was the lunge-feeding finback whales and the hundreds of atlantic white-sided dolphins that captivated the passengers of the Dolphin IX. At one point, as the sleek giant lunged toward the boat, the passengers lucky enough to be looking in the right direction got to look directly into the gaping mouth of the whale.
* The next morning was a different story, though. On May 04, it was the humpback whales, particularly Aswan and Springboard, that wowed the passengers with their use of bubble nets to corral the small, schooling fish into tighter balls. Once the feeding started, it lasted the better part of our day on the water and included whales named Jabiru and Osprey.

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* May 5, was a beautiful day of sun and flat seas. The southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank was alive with finback whales and atlantic white-sided dolphins.

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* Meanwhile, a little farther south, off of the Race Point Ranger Station, Jabiru and Aswan were feeding up a storm with a couple of other humpback whales and several hundred atlantic white-sided dolphins, attracting the attention of huge numbers of gulls. And a couple of whalewatch boats.

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* Peaked Hill Bars was the place to be on May 6. The group of feeding whales that had been a little to the northwest yesterday, was now continuing their assault on a huge school of sand launce that had shifted with the tide.

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* Four species of whale and two of seal were seen this morning, making today an incredibly diverse day for marine mammals. In the afternoon, a fifth species of whale was added to the trip and, in addition to the fabulous feeding behaviors, one of the humpback whales decided to demonstrate just how long and flexible its pectoral flippers are by flippering.


* And if that wasn’t enough, the size of the group of white-sided dolphins grew from about 200 to close to a thousand. And the new addition to the trip was a harbor porpoise.

LAG MAND C 5-8 IMG_8797

* The morning hours of May 8, found the waters off of the Race Point Station to be very productive. Lunging finback whales and a feeding humpback whale were generally accompanied by small groups of atlantic white-sided dolphins.


* In the afternoon, however, the large grouping of baleen and toothed whales, alike, had broken up so we travelled to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. We had begun to see that splashes some distance away, splashes that were so big they could only have been caused by one thing. A breaching whale.

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* And, shortly thereafter, the animal began to feed deep in the water column, leaving the passengers and crew alike to witness the intricate nets of bubbles that were rising to the surface in testiment to its activities.