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Naturalist’s Notebook: October 04 – October 10

The strong winds and high seas of last week continued into this one, causing the Dolphing Fleet to cancel its trips on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

In the dropping swell of October 07, as many as a dozen or more humpback whales were seen feeding around the Peaked Hill Bars.  Calves were seen throughout the day.  Two swam right up to the side of the Dolphin X and one was flippering with its mother.  Dennis Minsky reports the highlight of his day being the Dolphin X’s encounter with Hancock in the evening.  She was busy nursing her calf.

Feeding continued near Peaked Hill on October 08.  The schools of small fishes were so close to the surface that the humpbacks were breaking through the surface of the water with their mouths open and water streaming from the baleen.  At one point, Dennis Minsky reports seeing, “sand eels rushing for their lives.”

101_1440 Humpback Chin with Sand Lance D8  101_1488 Open mouth Humpback D8


Again, on October 09, humpback whales were seen making their living by feeding on schooling fish very close to the surface.  And, as the seas picked up in the afternoon, the feeding was slowly replaced with flippering and breaching.

100_4495 humpack pectoral D9  101_1450 Hancocks 2015 calf breach D8


More feeding on October 10.  Nancy Scaglione-Peck reports one humpback whale using a somewhat rare technique to corral fish together that involves breaching over its bubble clouds before slapping the surface with its tail.  The whale was not identified, but Catspaw is one of the few that has used this technique in the past.