Newburyport Whale Watch

We See Whales!

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Sunday, October 12 (Last trip!)

A little chilly, but otherwise lovely fall conditions made a perfect ending to our amazing 2014 whale watching season!

We ventured out to southern Jeffreys Ledge today, and though the journey was a bit on the longer side, traveling 22 miles from Newburyport, it was well worth it. There were possibly 15 humpbacks in the area all moving around quite a bit. We were able to get close looks at at least 6 individual humpback whales, as well as passing some pods of Harbor Porpoise during our travels. In further inspection of my photos, I discovered that the whales were messing with us a bit switching up their groups without us noticing.

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Echo and her calf

Our first whales of the day was a group of three whales. A mom with her calf and what we sometimes call an “escort”. Often times we see an additional adult whale traveling with a mother and a calf. We don’t know why they do this as it’s usually short lived and we can see the same mom and calf with different escorts throughout the season. This escort was a whale by the name of A-plus (named for a marking that looks like “A+”).

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Echo (back) and her calf (front)

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The underside of Echo’s tail

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“Rain-blow”

While spending time with this trio A-plus broke off from Echo and her calf and we left them all shortly after that. We moved into an area where we had a pair of humpback whales. And while waiting for them to resurface we noticed a single humpback whale off in the distance slowing moving towards us. Within a few minutes the single humpback joined up with the pair of whales were watching. And to make things interesting the single we believe was A-plus! The other two whales were identified as Decimal and Bolide.

 

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A humpback named Decimal

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Bolide’s all black tail

After leaving this trio of whales we had just enough time for one more sighting. We found a single humpback whale and it turned out to be my personal favorite humpback by the name of Pinball! Pinball is a 25 year old female that we see every year on Jeffreys Ledge, and she has had 6 calves that we know about! At least for me it made a perfect last sighting of this amazing season!

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Pinball!

Just wanted to take the chance to say thank you to all of our passengers for another great season. It certainly was an exciting one! We already can’t wait until the spring so we can see what the 2015 season will bring! But first many of our whales will travel south and hopefully have lots of healthy babies to bring back up here next year! Wishing you all a safe winter! Stay warm!

 

Monday September 29

We had a school trip today, students from Somersworth NH, had  one of the best whale watches of the fall.  Leaving the river we saw over 10 harbor seals,  chasing down fish, resting on the rocks, or just swimming around enjoying a calm and quiet morning in the river.

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Harbor seals taking restDSC_0949

As we entered into The Gulf of Maine we soon spotted our first “toothed” whales of the day, Harbor Porpoise, we have been very fortunate to see these little whales everyday for weeks now.  These little guys max out at about 6 feet and weigh in at about 200 lbs  We soon left the porpoise to find some larger whales, and we found them!  “Churn” and “Shuffleboard” were together today.  Churn” is a male that was first sighted in 1997.  “Shuffleboard” was first sighted in 2008, right now thats all we know about these two humpback whales.

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“Shuffleboard”                                        

 

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“Churn”

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Humpback right in front of our students today!

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Humpback whale along side of us

 

We left our two humpbacks and continued to look around for more marine life.  We had 3 Minke whales that were doing what Minke’s do, darting all around, popping up were we didn’t expect.

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One of our 3 Minke whales today

As we were waiting for our humpbacks to come back up 2 fin whales came along side of us taking many breaths at the surface.

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Unique dorsal fin of one of our fin whales

 

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Fin whale #2, close by

What a day of marine life!  We are very fortunate to have so many species of whales and other marine life in our New England waters.  Everyday is a complete surprise when we leave the dock, some days lots of life, others not so much.  All of us were thankful we had such a wonderful day on the water, especially when you have a boat full of anxious, excited, students on board.

Many thanks to Mrs. Hamm from the Somersworth school ( and her other staff) for once again putting this trip together for all of her students, we appreciate that you returned again this year.  We hope to see you again next year!

Cheers

Sunday, September 28

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Harbor Porpoise

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Atlantic White Sided Dolphins

Today’s whale watch finished out the weekend with a bang, or a Grand Slam, as we like to call it in the whale watching world. The weather was absolutely perfect, flat calm ocean and warm sun, seemingly the last hurrah of summer, and the marine life was in on the party! We couldn’t travel more than a few miles at a time without finding something!

It’s hard to explain the day step by step, so here are just a few of the highlights. After passing a few groups of harbor porpoise on our way out we came across a pair of fin whales that had an associated group of Atlantic White Sided Dolphin with them. We got some amazing looks at the fin whale that surfaced right along side us. With perfect lighting we were able to see the entire body of this whale beneath the surface.

 

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Fin whale

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Amazingly close looks at this fin whale. Notice the lighter colored pectoral flippers on the left!

Later we came across a pair of humpback whales. We struggle getting good looks at these whales with so many other vessels in the area, but luckily we got a few good looks at them while they were resting at the surface. We were able to identify these two whales as Jabiru (first seen in 2002) and Shuffleboard (first seen in 2008).

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Jabiru

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Jabiru (front) and Shuffleboard (back)

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Shuffleboard

On our way home while trying to get looks at another fin whale we had an interesting interaction with a blue shark. This shark seemed like it was “attacking” a log floating in the water. It kept coming up to the log, splashing around next to it, rubbing up against it. Then once we got close it seemed to realize we were there and swam away quickly. Not sure what the shark was doing, possibly just trying to figure out what the log was, none the less it was an interesting sighting.

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Blue shark rolled on it’s side next to the log

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Blue shark (swimming towards upper right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our third humpback of the day, a whale named Repeat

We finished out the day with a good sized ocean sunfish. It was amazing the amount of life we came across today and there was more weren’t able to spend time with. We had a total of 6 Fin whales, 1 group of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins, at least 3 groups of Harbor Porpoise, 3 Humpback whales, 3 Minke whales, 1 Blue shark and 1 Ocean Sunfish!

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Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola)

Saturday September 27

What a day!

We could not have asked for better weather conditions than we had today, yes it is fall but summer returned in a big way today!  I love when the weather folks are correct.  As we traveled out of the river we had several Harbor seals popping up all around, making some very visible splashes as they were chasing down a mid morning snack.

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One of many Harbor Porpoise on todays trip

Our first stop right out of the river we came across Harbor Porpoise, we some times question our selves when we see these small toothed whales, they tend to be shy and a bit elusive.  Our first pod proved us wrong!  These small whales actually stayed close by, close enough for all of us to hear the “puffing” sound of each breathe.

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“Quote”

Humpbacks were around today, we spent time with 6!  Our first individuals were “Buzzard” born in 2000, and “Quote”, a female born in 1983, both were doing some feeding and logging (sleeping).

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Evidence of feeding whales, whale poop!

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A Yellow Warbler found a safe place to rest

Other humpbacks we spent time with were “Shuffleboard” first sighted in 2oo8, “Jabiru” first sighted in 2002, “Sword” a male born in 1984, and Springboard” a female first sighted in 1997.

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Fin whale #0808

The above photo was taken from a distance away,and you can still see  the impressive length of the second largest whale in the world.

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Amazing look at the huge head of our fin whale

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Humpback heading down

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One of many seals on todays trip

The conditions for tomorrow are going to be even better than today, reaching 82 degrees, along with a light sea breeze.  Don’t let our recent sightings pass you by, we have been waiting for our humpbacks to return and they have in a big way!

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Thank you to all of our repeat passengers who joined us today, it was a pleasure to see you all again, and to all of our first timers, we thank you for choosing Newburyport Whale Watch and we look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

Make your reservations now for a beautiful day on the water with some breath taking marine life.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Friday September 26

A picture perfect day on the water with 6 Humpback whales, 3 Minke whales,  Harbor seals, and a Ocean Sunfish.

Today began with our first 2 whales of the day, “Spoon” and “Chromosome”  Our 2 friends were not doing high flukes but eventually we did see the underside of the tail confirming our sightings.  Spoon was going down to the bottom (330ft) returning with mud covering her upper and lower jaw.

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“Spoon” notice the mud!

 

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“Spoon” with “Chromosome” in the back ground

 

“Spoon” is a female humpback whale that was first sighted in 1977!  One of our older whales at about 37 years old.  She had her first calf in 1983 and her last in 2010, making her a mom of nine!  “Chromosome” is a male humpback first sighted in 1991, making him about 23 years old.  These two were seen together last week traveling together.

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“Chromosome” any idea how he got his name?

 

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“Spoon” heading down

“Spoon” is a very large, beautiful, and graceful whale who was “napping” a lot today and enjoying a lazy day not lifting her enormous tail (fluke) very high out of the water.

 We left Spoon and Chromosome and headed to see two more humpbacks, “Jabiru” and “Shuffleboard”

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“Jabiru” (L) and “Shuffleboard” (R)

It was a bit difficult to get great looks at these two due to the fact they were in the middle of a fleet of boats attempting to hook Blue Fin tuna.  During out time with these two whales a Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) came into view.  We were not able to get very close to the largest bony fish in the world but most folks on the upper deck were able to.

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The dorsal fin of “Jabiru”

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A portion of “Shuffleboard’s” fluke pattern

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“Sword”

The weekend forecast is calling for a high of 80 degrees on Saturday and Sunday a high of 82 degrees!  This could be one of the last summer like weekends, both days there will be a slight sea breeze to keep us all perfectly comfortable! whales, great conditions, a blast of summer weather! it doesn’t get any better than that!

Our well equipped galley can take care of your breakfast, snacks in between, and lunch!  We also have very cold beverages for both adults and children, all you need is your selves,  family and friends, our crew will take care of the rest!

Our season is coming to an end after trips on Columbus Day weekend, don’t miss out on the opportunity to spend time with such a variety of marine life in The Gulf of Maine.

Thank you to all who joined us today, it was a pleasure having all of you on board, from all of us at Newburyport Whale Watch, we hope to see you all again on a future trip.

Saturday September 20

A lot of life out on the ledge today, which included some wind, spray, and hardy passengers!  Weather predictions are ever changing one minute all is well the next gusts send the salty spray in all directions.  Our whales didn’t seem to be bothered by the sea conditions, they almost seem to enjoy it!  We saw some breaches in the distance, and tail lobbing as we slowly approached all the activity stopped and our humpback disappeared below the surface.  We did spend some quality time with “Black Hole” and “Nike”.  These two whales were associated feeding and traveling together.

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“Nike” the humpback whale

 

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“Black Hole” the humpback whale

 

“Black Hole” is a female first sighted in 1998, making her about 16 years old.  She had her first calf in 2003, 2005, Acrobat in 2007, 2009, and last documented calf in 2011. She was lifting her enormous tail high out of the water, some tail rises and surfacing with mud covering her upper and lower jaw, a very hungry whale!

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“Nike” dorsal fin

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“Black Hole’s” dorsal fin

 

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“Black Hole” fluking with “Nike” in the back ground

It’s always interesting to see How different each tail, and dorsal fin can be in each humpback whale, we also get to witness certain characteristics that make each whale so special.

We also came across some dolphin today, these small toothed whales were darting all around, having a great time in the surf.  We also had 2 Fin Back whales that didn’t spend a lot of time with us but we did get some looks at the second largest whale in the world.

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“Black Hole”

Our season is NOT over yet!  Fall is amazing on the water, our humpbacks have returned to the ledge (for now) grab your friends and family and spend the day breathing in the fresh air, warm sun, and of course the marine life of The Gulf of Maine.

We are whale watching Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Columbus Day weekend, one trip per day, 10 am departure returning at 2 pm.

Make your reservations today!

See you soon!

Cheers

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!

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