Newburyport Whale Watch

We See Whales!

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Tuesday July 22

As a naturalist you do a lot of talking and anyone who knows me knows  I love to talk, especially about whales! But I’m feeling like a broken record saying how wonderful, amazing, incredible our trips have been but honestly they have been!  I’ll let the photo’s tell the story!

 

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Huge humpback, talk about a close look!

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Open mouth feeding

 

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Humpback whale filtering

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Our sighting today included Nile and calf, Milkweed and calf, Bayou, Pepper, Perseid and calf, Cajun, Aerospace, Pele, and one we are still working on for ID.

ID UPDATE: The last whale to ID was named Eruption. We also saw Canopy and calf at a distance.

Most Humpback whale sighting are south which means its a longer ride and we may hit the dock late, be sure you have some flexibility with time when you make your reservation.  Whales are always on the move, we never know where they will be day to day, even hour to hour.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us today, it was another heart pounding, breath taking day, thank you to Captain Chris who once again took us to all of those wonderful whales.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Monday, July 21

Today’s trip was an extended whale watch with intentions to not only spend more time with whales but also try and see some fun sea birds throughout the day. Unfortunately we ended up looking at fog more than anything and also heard more whales than saw them. We were not expecting the fog offshore though we were lucky that a whale watching boat from the New England Aquarium had already found the whales, so we knew where to head. When we first arrived there were lots of humpbacks whales, the same group of whales we’ve been seeing the past few trips. We were able to spend a good amount of time with this group of whales, occasionally seeing a few others at the edge of the fog. We even had a couple moms with their calves, the calves being very active. The calves were tail breaching, lob tailing, rolling over, flipper slapping  and even a few full breaches as moms were busy feeding under the surface.

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So many whales in such a small area!

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One of our favorite humpback whales Nile (for the black line on the left fluke) who is a mom this year!

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The “smudgy” underside of this calf’s tail as it throws it’s tail around

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Playful calf rolling over with it’s belly up!

 

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The unique pattern of Cajun’s tail

After a great show all of a sudden the whales all went down on deeper dives, as they had been but then 15 minutes went by and we realized they were gone. With only about 300 feet of visibility the whales didn’t have to go far for us to lose them. Often times we could hear whales but couldn’t see them through the fog. After a bit of searching Captain Chris spotted them but they gave us the slip again after the next dive so we took the opportunity to head home. Just off the beach we broke out of the fog to a beautiful day.

We were able to identify many of our whales today: Nile and her 2014 calf, Milkweed and her 2014 calf, Perseid and her 2014 calf, Cajun, Bayou, Draco, and Aerospace. Not too many bird sightings today but we did see a few Great Shearwaters and some Wilson Storm Petrels.

Leaving the boat for the day, I happened to turn around and notice the fog bank had moved in. May have not been the best weather day on the water but finding whales in the fog being next to impossible, we definitely lucked out. Cooperation between whale watches vessel is key!

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Notice the fog bank in the background

Sunday, July 20 (Captain’s Lady III)

Quite the day of humpback whales on the water today. Both morning and afternoon trips on the Captain’s Lady III today were very similar. Both trips took us out to the same area a bit of a ride away but I think everyone agrees it was worth the trip! There seemed to be a group of about 25 humpbacks in a very small area today. In the morning they started out very condensed and in the afternoon spread out just a little. We were lucky enough to spend time with 5 different mother whales with their 6-7 month old calves! Many of our calves being very playful throughout the day!

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Humpback whale calf doing a headstand, waving it’s tail in the air

 

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Humpback whale Draco going on a dive

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So many whales in such a small area!

 

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Notice the difference in size of the tails between the calf and adults

The stars of the day were the calves or baby whales. Seeming to venture a little further from moms than usual, a few of our calves were putting on a show. One calf in particular seemed to be doing most of the wild behaviors. After some photo analysis, the star was figured out to be the calf of Canopy. Usually calves stay very close to the mother, but this active calf was on it’s own so much, figuring out who mom was, was a bit difficult. We got to see breaches in both morning and afternoon trips but the afternoon the same calf breached over and over throughout the trip. Hopefully everyone who came out with us today was able to see a breach!

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Humpback whale calf breaching right next to our pulpit!

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Calf breaching again!

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Curious playful humpback calf rolling over

 

 

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Humpback closeup

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Humpback whale calf breaching once again in the evening light

We were able to ID 15 of the whales seen today. Our 5 mom’s today were Canopy, Tornado, Nile, Perseid and Milkweed all with their 2014 calves. Other whales seen through out the day: Pepper, Draco, Jabiru, Bayou, Cajun, and Aerospace.

Saturday July 19th am & Sunday July 20 pm trip Captains Lady

Saturday July 19 8:30AM trip Captains Lady
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One of our many fin whales

 

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One of the 6-8 fin whales we had the pleasure of viewing

Our am trip was all about the second largest whale in the world the Fin whale.  They were so calm and gracious as they swam all around us!  A wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

 

Sunday July 20 pm trip Captains Lady

 

 

 

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Humpback whale landing on the surface from a breach!

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Humpback whale tail fluke

 

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2 humpback whales in close contact

 

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Humpback whale fluking

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Multiple whales

 

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Whales surrounding the Captains Lady III

If you have been reading our posts the whales have been such a pleasure this 2014 season.  The best whale watching in years!  Lots of bait everywhere so the whales and us who want to see them are very thankful.  I sure hope they continue to impress us with there size, curiosity, and gentleness that they always display, our gentle giants of the North Atlantic.

Cheers!

Friday July 18 am & pm trips

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Humpback whale filtering

 

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What kick feeding looks like at the surface and the orange? Whale poop of course!

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Multiple whales feeding

We always say what a difference a day makes what about 45 minutes to an hour?  Very, very different.  Our whales on our first trip of the day were 33 miles south.  Our afternoon trip the whales were just a few miles of off Salisbury and Hampton Beach!  Crazy?  yes it is!  Our whales just want to feed  where ever the food is they “tend” to be, other wise they are traveling looking for food after all it is the summer feeding time for all the whales who frequent The Gulf of Maine.

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One of the 6 fin whales of the afternoon

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We can’t forget about our smaller baleen whales, above is a Minke whale, the smallest of the baleen whales that visit us, sometimes they are over looked but I have a special place in my heart for these small whales.  Small yes in the whale world but to us still quite big!  Females about 30 ft and males 27 ft and weigh in between 8-10 tons full grown.

We have a very busy weekend ahead, be sure to call ahead and make your reservations, trips are selling out fast.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us on both our 8:30 and 1:30 trips.  We appreciate you choosing Newburyport Whale Watch, both trips were very different and thats what makes viewing whales so interesting and unpredictable, you just simply never know!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Thursday July 17 Captains Lady III

After two days being tied up we never know what to expect, once again not a disappointment.

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Humpback whale “Pinch” right at the front of the boat

 

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Fluke of “Pinch”

 

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Humpback whale “Exclaim”

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Belly and pectoral flipper of “Pinch”

“Exclaim” was first sighted in 1997, has a very visible wound on the left side of its fluke, though we can’t be sure of exactly what happened it’s proof once again of what all of our whales face on a daily basis.  Entanglements in fishing gear (both fixed and ghost)  and boat strikes are the biggest threats our marine mammals face.

Pectoral flippers are about 15 feet in length, which are used for stopping and steering and have bones in them that look similar to bones that we have in our arms.

On the way home just under a mile away from Rockport Massachusetts we spotted 2 fin whales.

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Fin whale 1 mile from Rockport

 

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Captains Lady II also whale watching with us today

The fin whale above also showing signs of human interaction, look closely at the dorsal fin.

Thank you to the Groveland Recreation Department for joining us today.  Most of our campers got a “close to boat” look at “Pinch”today coming up directly in front of us!

Thank you to all of our public passengers as well, it was another stellar day in The Gulf of Maine.

Thursday, July 17 (Captain’s Lady II)

We always say every day is different on the water but it’s amazing how different two whales watches can be even when they leave from the same dock at the same time. With a large group of campers as well as our lovely passengers we had to send out two boats today so that everyone could join us.

On the Captain’s Lady II, even though we got a late start, on our way to a report on Southern Jeffreys we came across a very nice fin whale that we started the day off well with.

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Fin whale

We didn’t spend too much time with the fin whale since we had a good report we wanted to get out to. The other boat we had out today (Captain’s Lady III) had already made it to a pair of humpbacks. When we showed up one of the pair must have taken off because we only found one humpback, but it was one awesome whale! After a couple of “normal” surfacings it surprised us with spy hop right next to us to take a good look at who/what we were!

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Humpback whale spy hop

After that it just put on a show, rolling over showing us it’s long white pectoral flippers and it’s white belly. The whale kept swimming just under us so we couldn’t leave! We were able to ID this whale as Pinch, a whale first seen in 1999.

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Humpback whale rolling over. You can see it’s eyeball looking at us just in front of the flipper!

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Humpback whale belly up with both flippers in the air

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Humpback whale named Pinch for the marking on the upper right side of the tail

 

One our way home we passed a few minke whales making it a 3 species day! Not bad after a couple days of bad weather, I wonder what the weekend will bring!

Monday July 14

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Humpback whale filtering

 

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Open mouth feeding

 

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Great look at baleen hanging from the upper jaw

 

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One of the 20 plus Humpback whales we spent time with today

 

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“Stub” a male first sighted in 1997

 

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Look closely and you can see fish in the mouth!

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Whale food on the surface

 

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Humpback fluke

Our 2014 season so far has been the best in many years.  Each day as we leave Newburyport I always wonder what is in store for us, and each day as we are heading home I reflect on the amazing whales I have had the honor and privilege to spend my days with.  So many passengers say “you have the best job in the world”  and with great pleasure I say “yes I do”

Today was filled with open mouth feeding, a spinning head breach, filtering,kick feeding, and whales creating “bubble nets”  a spectacular feeding technique unique to humpback whales.

In total today over 20 humpback whales were all around us!  Some included “Stub”, “Twister” (a female first sighted in 1989), “Reflection” and her new 2014 calf.  We only had to travel 23 miles to breathe taking whale watching.

Thank you to all who joined us today, you certainly picked one of the best days so far!

Cheers!

UPDATE: Identified humpbacks: Thicket, Reflection and calf, Twister, Fracture, Timberline, Erosion, Scrimshaw, and Diablo.

 

Sunday, July 13

Very different day of whale watching in comparison to saturday, the whales love to keep up on our toes. The sea state picked up a little making too much traveling not as pleasant. We first came across a couple minke whales then got some great looks at a huge fin whale. We didn’t spend much time with the fin whale as we had a report of more whales ahead. In the reported area we found one humpback whale that was throwing it’s tail in the air as we approached but once we got up close it dove and continued doing long dives and coming up far away not allowing us great looks. Though on our way home we came across another humpback whale only 9 miles from the beach! This whale was much more cooperative and we were even able to identify it as a female named Hancock!

UPDATE: Our uncooperative lobtailing humpback was a female named Diablo!

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Huge fin whale!

 

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Humpback whale Diablo lob tailing

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Hancock the humpback whale

For the afternoon trip the wind picked up even more and we decided to stop short of Jeffreys Ledge and stay in the area we found the fin whale and Hancock the humpback whale in the morning, where the sea state was a little better. Overall we saw 2 speedy minke whales and 2-3 fin whales. One of the fin whales definitely playing tricks on us as it would pop up far enough away that we thought it was a different whale but was actually the same. We were never able to relocate the morning’s humpback whale, but we spent some quality time with our fin whales and got some amazing close looks! Also pointed out quite a few sea birds on this trip for all our birders: Great, Sooty, and Cory’s Shearwaters as well as Northern Gannet and Wilson Storm Petrel.

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Fin whale charging through the surf

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Fin whale

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The unique dorsal fin of this fin whale

 

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Cory’s Shearwater

The ocean always has surprises for us as every day is very different, come on out with us and see what happens next time!

 

 

Saturday, July 12

Another busy weekend but as always wonderful time on the water with 4 very different trips over the weekend!

Saturday morning was our first 4 whale species day, what we like to call a grandslam! In our travels we had some quick surfacings of 3 different minke whales and one sneaky fin whale. But the majority of the day was spent with a lot of lazy humpback whales! We saw about 10 different humpbacks that all seemed to be resting at the surface, not active at all. Actually only saw the flukes of 4 of them because most were too lazy to raise their tails. We managed to ID two whales so far: Aerospace and Thicket. We also had a small pod of Atlantic White Sided Dolphin with our first humpbacks. Only our second sightings of dolphin this season!

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Atlantic White Sided Dolphin next to the hug flukeprint from a humpback whale

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Aerospace the humpback whale

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Minke whale

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Humpback whale named Cardinal

Saturday afternoon we headed back out to where all the humpbacks were in the morning, they were a bit more spread out and we only ended up seeing two humpback whales, but we just didn’t want to leave these two! These two humpbacks were putting on a show as if they knew the people on board were clapping for them. Lots of spy hopping, and rolling over right next to the boat!

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Dancing humpback whale

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incoming!

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Humpback whale named Thicket throwing it’s tail into the air

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Thicket again

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rolling over and looking right at us!

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Humpback whale belly up with 2 long pectoral flippers in the air mid roll

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Unforgettable day for everyone on board!

ID UPDATE: Morning trip was spent with Aerospace, Thicket, Cardinal and Timberline. Afternoon trip was just Thicket and Timberline.

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