July 9th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

Today we left the dock in Provincetown and made our way offshore with overcast skies and a warm breeze.  Once we reached the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank we picked up on a blow in the distance.  As we made our way closer we realized this was a humpback whale named Nile.  Yesterday we also watched Nile on the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank.

Today Nile was subsurface feeding and making fluke-out dives.  As she made each dive she lifted her fluke high out of the water showing us great looks at the ventral pattern on the underside of her fluke.

After watching Nile for a little longer we moved off to look for some more animals in the area.  As we made our way to the south east (closer to Race Point) we suddenly spotted a very large blow off our bow.  This was a finback whale!!  The whale surfaced right in front of us.  We stayed watching this animal; this whale was traveling and making short dives.  A few times this finback whale surfaced right next to our vessel.

While watching this finback whale we also had a minke whale surface.  These two whales were not associated but the were in the same area subsurface feeding.

July 8th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

We left Provincetown on this calm hot day. Traveling past the ‘fist’ of the Cape, we sighted our first sighting just 3 miles off Race Point.  This was a sighting of a minke whale which was traveling along the surface moving quite fast.  This was a great beginning to our day offshore!  After watching the minke for some time we moved on toward the SW corner of Stellwagen Bank. Traveling north we spotted a large bushy blow off the bow of the boat.  This type of blow normally belongs to humpback whales, so we made our way closer to the whale.

While the whale was  “fluking out” or picking its tail out of the water we saw great views of the ventral fluke or under part of the tail of the humpback whale. This ventral fluke pattern resembled that of a whale we have been seeing a lot this season- Nile.  Nile was given her name due to the unique pigmentation pattern on her ventral fluke, which resembles a river.

While we watched Nile we noticed her behaviors consisted of blowing bubbles deeper under the surface to use during subsurface feeding and  fluking-out as she went down on dives. During this time the weather drastically changed and we found ourselves viewing Nile within a thick layer of fog.

After viewing Nile for some time we moved on in search for other whales in the area. While searching we came upon another minke whale.  This individual was traveling near the surface, spending more time up than usual.  Soon the fog lifted as we made our way back to Provincetown from another great day off shore!

By, NECWA intern, Anna Hoch.

July 7th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Diane

Leaving Provincetown we had great conditions for a whale watch. With only a slight haze and a light wind of 2-5 knots it foreshadowed a great day offshore. We headed straight to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank- the same place we have been having luck.

As we came upon Stellwagen Bank we got great looks at a minke whale. Normally, these small baleen whales are very elusive and tend to stay away from the boat. However, this curious individual spent a lot of time around our boat giving us great looks of the dorsal fin.  Since this minke whale was very close to our boat, and because of the green tint of the water, the “green” patches on its flippers, known as “Minke Mittens,” are actually white.

Soon enough in the distance a fluke was spotted. We journeyed towards that direction and identified this whale as a humpback. We were able to identify this type of whale because humpbacks are known to lift their flukes out of the water to propel them down into the water column. This whale was identified as Nile. Nile is an older female humpback that was named for her ventral fluke pattern that has a line on the left side that resembles a river. After several dives, we noted she was taking only 3-4 minutes dives.

Once we left this animal, we quickly spotted a gray seal swimming on the surface in the distance. We knew this was a gray seal and not a harbor seal because of its snout poking out of the water. As we were observing the gray seal, another minke whale darted across the bow of the boat. Just moments later, another gray seal came up close to our boat swimming along side us. This was a peculiar sighting because the common personalities of gray seals are isolated and shy. Due to the increase in gray seal populations we may begin to see and understand more about this behavior.

Overall the day was filled with many offshore sittings.  Total of 3 minke whales, 2 gray seals and the returning humpback whale- Nile.

~ By, NECWA intern, Tori Gray.

July 3rd, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

On July 3rd we had a three species day!  We had humpback whales, finback whales, and minke whales.  In the start of our trip we came across two humpback whales that turned out to be a female named Nile and a female named Mudskipper.

Nile and Mudskipper were not associated but they were traveling and feeding in the same general area around us.  As we were drifting watching these whales we had Nile lunge to the surface mouth open!

We also saw beautiful fluke out dives from Nile.  While watching Mudskipper we were never able to grab a fluke out dive; but we sort of expected this because Mudskipper has not once shown us a fluke out dive over the past 2 days.  Humpback whales typically lift their flukes out because they need the extra push to send their robust bodies down deep.  However if the whale does not want to make a deep dive the animal does not need to expend and waste the energy to lift its large fluke out of the water.

 

When we had watched these two humpback whales we then moved off to look for some more animals in the area.  After searching we found two finback whales and one minke whale.  It was quite amazing to see these three animals together.

July 5th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

Today on the Provincetown Whale Watch we had great visibility of 8-10 miles and only a sight haze.  These are perfect conditions for spotting whales.  We made out way toward the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank in search for some marine mammals.  Captain Jonny Dennen spotted a blow roughly a mile away, and we quickly caught up to this animal.  It turned out to be a humpback whale!  This medium-sized baleen whale gave us some beautiful looks at the ventral fluke.

Each humpback whale has a different black and white pattern on its fluke.  Researchers use this to identify the individual.  We ID’d this animal as Nile.  Nile is a female whale that has been researched for about 26 years.  She also gave a very uncommon look at her throat pleats on her underside.  These pleats are expanded to allow the whale to take in as much food and water as possible.

After spending some time with Nile we decided to continue our search for some other animals.  We headed North and found a smaller baleen whale – a minke whale.  Normally these whales are very quick and elusive but we were very lucky to get some great glimpses of this species, as it traveled across the bow of our boat.  Just as we were admiring the minke, another surfaced right behind us on the stern of the boat too!  After we left the two minke whales, we decided to head to the direction of Race Point Beach.  On our way there we spotted another blow.  We again caught up with our humpback friend Nile! Before we returned to Provincetown we took a few more looks at her as she was fluke-out diving.  Humpbacks do fluke out dives when they are going on their deeper dives.  They are not as streamline as some of the other whales; they do this behavior in order to get deeper in the water column.

~ NECWA intern, Anna Hoch, helped write this blog.

July 1st, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

The humpback whales are back!!  Today Monday July 1st was our first sightings of humpback whales for a while.  For the past month we have not been sighting humpback whales because they have been further offshore feeding on large concentrations of small fish (herring, mackerel, American sandlance, menhaden) off of Chatham, MA.

So today,as we saw the large tail fluke of a humpback whale, being lifted out of the water our excitement soared!  This humpback whale turned out to be a long time resident named Nile.  It was very nice to see Nile.  Nile was sighted back in May surface feeding and traveling with two other humpback whales named Evolution and Measles.  However, today Nile was traveling and subsurface feeding by herself.

After watching Nile for a while we slipped away and went off to search for other animals in the area.  We came upon a minke whale which was traveling fast and not spending much time on the surface.  And shortly after picked up on a finback whale who was also traveling and making 3 to 4 minute dives.  We got great looks at the finback whale and then moved away to a blow that was sighted in the distance.

This next blow turned out to be another humpback whale!  As we watched this animal we saw the whale traveling and also feeding deeper in the water column.  When this humpback whale surfaced, leftover bubbles also surfaced with the whale.  These bubbles indicated to us that the animal is feeding deep in the water column.  As this whale went on dives it was not lifting its fluke or tail out of the water so we were not sure who this individual was.

Then all of a sudden the animal rolled and we caught a quick glimpse of the left hand side of the whale’s ventral (or underside) black and white pattern.  After matching up the whales fluke and dorsal photos to humpback whale catalogs this humpback was confirmed to be Mudskipper.

June 30th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Diane

Today we left Provincetown on a beautiful day, with a nice cool breeze.  We were only about 9 miles off of Race Point when we came upon our first finback whale.  This finback was giving us some great looks.  While we were watching this finback, Diane, the naturalist on board and several of our passengers spotted a minke whale off the port (left) side of the boat.  This minke whale gave everyone a good look at another type of whale that we are fortunate enough to see in the North Atlantic.  Minke whales are the second smallest whale, therefore its small size, fast speed, and tendency to stay at the surface for only short periods make it difficult to spot.  So we were fortunate to get great looks at the minke.

 

We continued to head northwest where we found another finback whale.  We watched this whale rise to the ocean surface to breath.  While watching this whale, another finback came to the surface!  These whales were not associated with one another; just traveling in the same area around our boat.  We left the finback that we had followed to this area and continued to follow our third finback.  We followed this finback whale for about 15 minutes as it kept surfacing for breaths and appeared to be sub-surface feeding in the area.

Finback whales are nicknamed the “greyhounds of the sea” as they can be quite elusive creatures that surface for only a few breaths and can travel very fast underwater.  Therefore, it was amazing that we were able to get such great looks at an endangered species! Great day out on the water!

Blog by: NECWA intern Christine Moodie

June 26th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

The afternoon began with a hot hazy boat ride out of Provincetown.  We made our way out to Stellwagen Bank, and soon after we came across a finback whale.  Behind the large animal the sky became darker indicating a storm.  As we watched this animal take many breaths at the surface, 3 more minke whales came into the area.

Finback whale.

Finback whale.

While watching these whales, fog rolled in and the visibility dropped from 6 miles to ½ a mile and we found our watch within a summer rain storm.  Despite the shower our passengers were able to see two different species of baleen whales!  One being an endangered finback whale which is the second largest animal to ever live on earth.  On the ride home the sun came out and we left the finback to enjoy its afternoon subsurface feeding off the coast of Provincetown.

 

 

June 25th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

Again we had beautiful blue skies as we left the dock in Provincetown for our 12 pm whale watch.  Venturing out into Cape Cod Bay we came upon a finback whale.  This whale was spending a great deal of time on the ocean surface (not making long dives).

 

With the water as still as it was, we were able to grab some amazing looks at finback whales as they came to the surface to breath.

We even had a finback whale surface right off the bow of our vessel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 24th, 2013 ~ 12:00 pm Whale Watch - Tiffany

Monday, June 24th, was our first whale watch of the 2013 season!  We were blessed with blue bird skies and a slight breeze.  As we made our way out of Provincetown harbor we passed the Long Point, Wood End, and Race Point Lighthouse.

Long Point Lighthouse.

Wood End Lighthouse.

Race Point Lighthouse.

As we traveled through the Bay we spotted a very large blow in the distance.  The crew had a good feeling this was a finback whale!  Finback whales are the second largest animals to ever live on planet Earth.  They can reach 80 feet in length and weigh up to 70 tons!  This is huge considering the largest land animal is the male African elephant which weighs 3 to 4 tons.

As we approached the animals we confirmed that the whale was indeed a finback whale.

This whale was spending a good deal of time at the ocean surface.  The animal would come up to take a few breaths and when it did we were able to see the beautiful asymmetrical pattern which is unique to finback whales.

While offshore we also got a great look at a minke whale.  Minke whales are the smallest baleen whales in our waters.  An adult is 25 to 30 feet and weighs about 8 tons.

 

 

 

 

 

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