Newburyport Whale Watch

We See Whales!

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Sunday, September 14

We had a surprisingly lovey day on the water after a week of some less than ideal sea conditions. The chill in the air didn’t slow our hardy passengers at all, but thankfully the sun helped keep us warm, not a cloud in the sky. We headed off to Jeffreys Ledge where some whales had been seen yesterday and came across a pair of humpback whales. One of the whales was one of our favorites that we see every year, it was Valley! Valley is a very large female whale who was first seen in 1985! Valley was hanging out with another older female by the name of Sickle. Sickle was first seen in 1979! We even had a quick sighing of a minke whale near these two large whales.

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Our two large females Valley and Sickle

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The unique pattern of Sickle’s tail

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Notice the difference in the two dorsal fins. Sickle in front and Valley in the background.

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Valley the humpback whale

After leaving Valley and Sickle we headed over to a pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins reported to us by another whale watching boat. This was a very small, shy group of dolphins we only got a couple looks at. But while looking at the dolphins we found a large ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

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Today’s large Ocean Sunfish

We finished up the day with another pair of humpback whales. We just took a quick look as we were out of time and only one of the whales decided to show us it’s tail. This was a whale by the name of Quote another female who was first seen about 31 years ago. We weren’t able to identify the whale swimming around with Quote but our friends on the Granite State were able to get a photo of that whale’s tail and thanks to their awesome ID skills they informed us it was a whale by the name of Liner. After leaving those two we got a quick look at another minke on our way home.

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Two more different dorsal fins of our second two humpbacks, Quote and Liner

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Humpback whale named Quote

Over all a great day with a total of 4 humpback whales, 2 minke whales, 1 ocean sunfish, and 1 small group of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins. Loved the variety we saw today!

Sunday, September 7

Sunday was a great day on water, we were lucky to have such nice weather in September. If anyone had seen our last post, we had a humpback whale show up on Jeffreys Ledge on Labor Day weekend and we wondered if more whales would follow, and they have! Sunday morning we headed out in the direction of where we had reports of whales. We first came across a humpback whale that seemed to be doing some feeding, swimming in large circles and taking short dives, most likely corralling and feeding on fish. Once we saw the underside of this whale’s tail we were able to identify it as a male by the name of Chromosome.

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Chromosome’s unique tail pattern, the large black marking on the left is what gave this whale it’s name.

Not too far from where Chromosome was we found another humpback that we identified as a whale named Six. Six is a female, she has had 3 calves that we know about and is at least 30 years old. There must have been a lot of food in the area as she also seemed busy feeding like Chromosome.

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Humpback whale named Six

After leaving Six we headed off in the direction of another whale we had seen from a distance. It took a little patience but we got a quick visit from a different species, a large fin whale! This fin whale just slowly and quietly passed right by us, maybe even taking a little nap we just barely got looks at it as it was what we call “low profile” but good lighting allowed us to follow it just under the surface. We tried to be patient, it surfaced a second time behind us, then after a few minute a third surfacing quite a distance away and then it was gone.

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Super stealthy fin whale trying to sneak by us!

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This surfacing at a distance was the last we saw of our sneaky fin whale

We ended the day in an area with 3 more humpback whales that were all in the same general area but spread out just a bit. We got a great look at one of these whales going down on a dive right next to us, and a second whale was charging through the water showing us almost all of it’s head and creating a lot of white water as it move quickly through the water. This energetic whale was named Jabiru. We also found out that another one of the 3 was Chromosome again! We unfortunately never got close enough to identify our third whale of the group before we had to head back in to Newburyport.

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Chromosome surfacing nearby, notice the light green patch next to the whale, this is the 15 ft long bright white pectoral flipper that our humpback whales have

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Jabiru’s tail pattern

Over all we had a total of 4 humpback whales, a quick look at a passing fin whale, and we did spot a couple small minke whales throughout our travels but they were being extra elusive where we’d see them only once before they were gone. In talking to our other whale watching friends there are plenty more humpback whales out there that we didn’t get to during our trip, and it seems more humpbacks are showing up every day! We can’t wait to get back out there and see what the ocean brings us!

Monday September 1

Happy Labor Day and hello September!

It was a hot one today!  Thankfully on the water is was perfect!  The breeze was cool, good sea conditions, and “Owl” (the best part of the day) was still in the area.  Owl is a 28 year old Humpback whale who had her last calf last year making a total of 7 calves for her so far.

We had a total of 3 Minke whales also on our trip and a few passengers spotted a Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish) after we left the mouth of the river.

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“Owl’s” dorsal fin

 

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Not a good sighting today!

 

Balloons are colorful, fun for parties, but so dangerous for marine life, Owl was feeding only feet from this balloon, something we never like to see.  Captain Chris didn’t hesitate when it came to retrieving it from the water.  Captain Ryan quickly and safely got the balloon, popped t and disposed of it properly.  Please don’t release balloons, pop them and do the same, we have removed a lot this season along with a cooler and other items of marine debris.

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Thank you Captain Ryan!

 

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Remittence of a “bubble cloud” from Owl

 

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Owl’s fluke

Owl wasn’t in the mood to raise her fluke (tail) out of the water today, she only fluked 3 times and all 3 were low flukes, not good angles to see the natural pigmentation on the under side.

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Large scar on Owl’s back

Sadly Owl has a large (but healed) scar from human interaction, she looks fine and healthy, feeding and staying close by.

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Splash guard and twin blow holes

We were all very happy to see Owl today as our humpbacks have been spending most of the summer south of Newburyport at times within range to actually be able to spend time others just way to far not leaving anytime to spend with the whales.

Will humpback sighting improve?  I wish I knew the answer to that frequently asked question.  Our schedule is now Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Columbus Day weekend, one trip on these days from 10AM to 2 PM.

September and October are beautiful times of the year on the water, join us for a whale watch!

See you soon!

Cheers

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 31

Today’s whale watch was a great way to end the month of August and to escape the humid air on land. It was a bit breezy out on the water creating a little wave action but nothing that hindered our search at all. In our travels out to an area where another whale watch boat had reported whales  we passed by two different pods of Harbor Porpoise. We passed by the first group, and attempted to stop on the second group but were unable to relocate so hopefully a few of our passengers got some quick looks at these small toothed whales. We ended up in an area of some reported whales where we came across a couple minke whales. we got a couple quick looks at a minke whale before we finally located a fin whale.

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One of our many minke whales

This fin whale seemed very busy feeding just under the surface as it wasn’t staying down for very long and staying right in the same area. We were able to get very good looks at this massive creature.

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Long large body of our fin whale

Just as we were about to head home we got an exciting report from another whale watching vessel only a few miles away, we couldn’t resist. It was a humpback whale! Normally this isn’t overly exciting but this season the humpbacks have been a bit challenging. We have only seen humpbacks once in the past 30 days, so we were happy to see one again. And even more exciting it was Owl! Owl is a very familiar humpback that we see just about every year! Owl was first seen as a calf in 1986 making her 28 years old and has had 7 calves (how we know she’s a female) that we know about, her most recent one was born last year. We were able to end the trip we some excellent close looks at Owl before we had to return to Newburyport.

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Owl’s unique tail. The black dots on each side of the tail is how Owl got her name.

 

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Owl’s very unfortunately large but healed scar as she heads in towards us

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Owl’s head as she surfaces nearby!

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Owl’s tail as she goes down on a dive right next to us!

Over all a 4 species day! 2 pods of harbor porpoise, 4-5 minke whales throughout the day, 1 fin whale and Owl the humpback whale. Maybe the humpbacks are returning to the area for the fall? There’s one way to find out… come on out with us!

Friday August 29

A bit of fall in the air today, the sun was shining and we  had a very nice variety of marine life to spend time with.  Our first stop was with a large pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphin, always a pleasure to see, dolphin just seem to make everyone happy, me included.

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White Sided Dolphin making quite the splash!

 

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Dolphin on the run!

Our fin whales were slow moving, close by our boat, and gave us some fabulous looks at them.

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Fin whale splash guard

 

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“Dingle”

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Tall cone shaped exhale from one of our fin whales with White Island Light in the back ground

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“Foot Print” aka “Fluke Print”

Dingle was with a friend again today, the friend has not been given a name or number just yet but they really seem to like spending time together.  At times they exhaled together, popped up together, other times one right behind the other.  What is puzzling about these two  is we normally don’t see baleen whales together for this amount of time they are pretty solitary animals, except for mom/calf pairs and it isn’t mating time, its feeding time.  These two have been traveling together for days!

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“Dingle” and a very special friend

During our travels today we also saw Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna chasing down some schooling fish, 2 Minke whales, and a couple of Harbor Seals both in the river and out by the Isles of Shoals.

The weekend calls for great weather make a reservation and spend a beautiful day on the water with us and some very cool marine life!

See you soon.

Cheers

 

 

Thursday August 28

The folks who predict the weather were off quite a bit today.  As I watched the news last night they were talking of sea’s 6 to 10 feet and of course we had many cancellations, we still had enough to go and we had a great day of weather and whales!  Sorry to those who cancelled!

We started our day with a Minke whale who came up a few times very close by then disappeared.  As we waited for our Minke to come back up we saw a small pod of Harbor Porpoise, some of our passengers got a quick look.

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Beautiful Finback Whale

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Harbor Seal watching us

 

“Dingle” the fin whale was in the area again today with another friend, these 2 fin whales spent a lot of time with us, coming up together which is always a wonderful sighting.

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“Dingle” and friend

 

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Just a small portion of a fin whale

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Fin whale splash guard and blow holes

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Fin whale close by a lobster boat

 

Our day was filled with all types of marine life, 3 Minke whales, 3 Finback whales, 2 pods of Harbor Porpoise, and 8 Harbor Seals.  Not a bad day at all!

The weekend looks perfect for whale watching, come out on our Saturday morning trip and then spend the day at the water front listening to a free concert sponsored by “The River” 92.5, they have a great line up of artists and the weather looks perfect!

After Labor Day our schedule is Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, one trip per day 10am to 2pm.  Fall is a great time to be on the water, actually everyday is a great day on the water!

Come out and see us and all the marine life  that we have the pleasure of seeing each day.

Thank you to all who came out today we hope to see you again.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 27

Once again today we were grateful to trade the hot humid air on land for the nice cool breeze on the water. We headed off in a southeast direction in search of a recently reported sighting, not finding what we were looking for we came across a fin whale! This fin whale was doing long dives and just in the time we watched this fin whale a bit of wind moved in creating a lot of white caps making spotting a bit more difficult. When the fin whale’s dive time was approaching 15 minutes we decided to leave.

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Our first fin whale of the day

As we headed back in a northwest direction the sea state improved and we were back into calm, white-cap-free waters. Our friends on the Granite State had another fin whale that they shared with us. As we approached they told us that their fin whale fluked for them, we could only hope it would do it for us as well. This fin whale was a friendly face for us, it was Dingle! In the past I’ve noticed that when dingle goes down on deeper dives we often see his fluke tips. Well today he was feeling a bit fluke-y! Dingle showed us its tail (also known as flukes) 3 different times. This is a behavior that’s common to other species like humpback whales but not fin whales! We have no idea why Dingle kept lifting his tail especially because he would remain at the surface and not dive down. Regardless of why he did it, it was an amazing sight for all on board!

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Dingle the fin whale!

 

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A normal behavior for a fin whale going on a dive… but it’s what happens next that’s exciting..

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the underside of a fin whale’s tail!

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Close surfacing of Dingle the fin whale

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Looking into the huge blowholes of a fin whale as it exhales

I feel like a broken record when I say “every day is different” but it really is, especially that we’ve seen Dingle many many times this season but just today he decided to lift his tail!

Tuesday, August 26

Today was a great day to escape the hot, humid air in Newburyport into the much cooler air on the ocean. We did have a bit of wind on the water making spotting whales a bit more challenging but that didn’t stop us from having a great day. After a bit of searching we came to an abrupt stop, both Captain Bob and I saw something pop up right in front of us. Neither of us knew what it was so we took some time to look around. While looking around we were able to spot a small minke whale, and then all of a sudden there was a large fin whale right behind us! We spent time following around this fin whale as it was taking short dives but definitely doing some traveling, we had a hard time keeping up with it. We also saw a second minke whale in the distance while watching our fin whale as well as a curious harbor seal!

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Our fin whale going down on a dive

After leaving our fin whale and heading off in the direction of another sighting we were in the vicinity of our friends on another whale watch boat the Granite State and they pointed out a large amount of splashing to us. It was an enormous pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins! This pod had probably 250 individuals in the group! Everywhere you looked there we dolphins, it was an amazing sight! We were able to spend a lot of time with these small toothed whales.  There was also many Northern Gannets flying around the group of dolphins. These Northern Gannets feed on the same food our dolphins are eating so it is common to see these birds and other sea birds following our dolphins. There were many adorable little dolphin calves swimming along side their mothers. It was such an amazing experience for everyone on board and really can’t be put into words.

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A mother dolphin and her calf swimming along side us

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Mature northern gannet swimming over our dolphins

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Speedy Atlantic White Sided Dolphin

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Another mother and young calf!

 

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Just a few of the dolphins our passengers were able to enjoy

So including our harbor seal we had a 4 species day! But the most time was spent with two of our species, the fin whale and our incredibly large group of dolphins! Can’t believe we’re in our last week of full time whale watching! But not to worry, we continue to whale watch on a modified schedule until Columbus Day!

Monday August 25

Hot summer conditions came back in a big way today but once we left the river it cooled down and we had a beautiful day with a lot of different sightings and super calm conditions.  As we left the river we had several seals swimming all around, always fun to see.

Our first stop was with Harbor Porpoise, a total of 4 pods today and we actually got some nice looks at these small toothed  whales.

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Harbor Porpoise

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2 Harbor Porpoise

 

Believe it or not these are good sightings of these little whales, they are quite shy and only reach a max length of 6 feet and weigh about 200 pounds.

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One of many Harbor Seals on our trip today

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Harbor seal taking a look at us!

All seals are very cute but they do have teeth and being a wild animal if threatened they will bite, please remember they are a protected species so be sure to give them plenty of space if you see one hauled out on local beaches.

Our Finback whales have returned to the area, they took a few days off and went exploring only they know where, but we are so happy they have returned.

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“Dingle” the fin whale

Dingle was with a friend today, both at times right next to each other, other times one right behind the other.

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Dingle’s friend

Fin whales are the second largest whales in the world!  Larger in mass than any dinosaur!  These two whales were very relaxed moving nice and slowly on the surface.

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Steep arch of one of our fin whales heading down

We had a total of 3 Finback whales on today’s trip, so happy they returned.  We also had 4 Mola mola on our trip today, sadly 2 of the 3 had injuries to dorsal fins.

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Mola mola with dorsal damage

 

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Mola mola aka Ocean Sunfish

Ocean sunfish are the largest bony fish in the world and we saw 3 of them today!

We had both whale watchers and bird watchers on board today.  Dave Larson from the Audubon Society spoke about all of the bird life we saw today.

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Shearwater’s

We spotted both Cory’s and great Shearwater’s today.

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Minke whale

Minke whales are a small baleen whale, unpredictable, fast moving, and a favorite of mine.  Some days they are more curious than others, but they always seem to pop up right when we need them.

Hot conditions are in store for the week, its so much cooler on the water and sightings are  very good with all types of marine life.

Thank you to all who joined us today.

Cheers

 

Sunday, August 24

We had a lovely day of whale watching today as the sun was out all day and the ocean calmed down a bit after a rough few days.

The morning trip we started off with a fin whale, the second largest whale in the world! We got some great looks at this fin whale when it finally decided to slow down and pop up right next to us multiple times. Also saw a harbor seal hanging out around some buoys. We later spent time with 2 minke whales that were actually very close to each other for a bit, not something we see every day.

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Morning fin whale

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Harbor seal

The afternoon trip we started out with an amazing look at a minke whale. Captain Chris just barely spotted this minke whale in the distance, and after taking a few minutes to relocate it, the next time it surface it was coming right in for us. We decided to put the engines in neutral and wait, this is the safest thing for the whale. This minke whale decided to swim right under our pulpit and surface right next to us! A great start to the day! We later found 2 fin whales in close proximity to eachother. One of these fin whales is one we like to call Patches as it has a large white patch on it’s right side. We didn’t get great looks at the second whale. We then attempted to leave the area but before we could we came across 4 more minke whales, a harbor seal and a small group of harbor porpoise! A lot of life just a few miles off of the Isles of Shoals!

 

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Close encounter with a minke whale as it’s just about to break the surface

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Notice the very pointed snout poking out of the water

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Minke whale surfacing close by

 

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Afternoon fin whale “Patches”

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Minke surfacing with White Island in the background

Always a great day on the water and especially spending it with whales!

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