August 8th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

On Friday we watched all three species of baleen whales! A day filled with minke, finback and humpback whales. We started the trip off with finback whales and minke whales off of Race Point and slightly to east and then we pushed on further down the back side of the Cape to search for more whales. We did a lot of searching for whales today but in the end it paid off!!

We started the trip off with the largest – which is finback whales. These animals reach a length of 80 feet and weight a max of 70 tons. We caught a quick look at a finback whale out in the distance at Race Point Beach as we passed by. After traveling further to the East we located more finback whales. We came into an area where we thought we had 1 finback but really ended up having 2 finbacks in the area. We watched one of the animals and this whale lunge fed right next to the boat. We got to see the whale glowing green in the water because the whale was traveling with us on our left. This meant we were looking at the right side of the animal which is white. Finbacks have an asymmetrical coloration (the right lower jaw is white and the left lower jaw is gray).

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After a while we moved on from this feeding finback whale to head further to the south heading down the backside of the Cape. After traveling a good distance we started to pick up on a few groups of birds and a minke whale here and there but these whales were not interested in staying on the surface for very long.

At the end of our trip our crew member, Ronnie, located humpbacks! And even better – it turned out to be a mother/calf pair - Nile and her 2014 calf. Nile is a regular in the area; she was first sighted in 1987 traveling by her mother Mar’s side. Nile is a humpback we saw as a calf (her first year of life) so we know that Nile is 27 years old. At age 11 Nile had her first documented calf.    ~  We felt extremely bless to be able to watch this new addition to the Atlantic population of humpback whales ~

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We made our way into the area and drifted to watch this pair. As we sat there Nile and her calf began to log or rest at the ocean surface. As we drifted with the wind and the waves we ended up getting closer and closer. At one time the calf was almost touching the starboard side of our vessel. Having Nile and her calf this close to us was a great opportunity for us to realize the actual size of these animals.

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Since the calf was so close to the vessel I asked all the passengers to start waving their arms from side to side in the air. As they did this Nile’s calf started to roll slightly and then dove and headed towards our bow to surface again. Nile and her calf then alternated to the left of our vessel to start logging again. Each time this mom and calf rested next to us, Nile kept her calf closer to us and Nile stayed on the outside – this gave us the feeling that Nile trusted us with her calf. After a few more minutes with this pair Nile arched her back and lifted her fluke; her calf fluked out only a few seconds afterwards.

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All in all, we had really great day on the back side of Cape Cod watching lots of different whales!

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August 7th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

Thursday’s whale watch was great – we had a two species day! We made our way around Race Point Lighthouse and then Captain Ted spotted a fin back in front of us.  We came to a halt and hung out to wait for this whale to return back to the surface. After only a few minutes the fin whale surfaced to our left. We moved into the area to get a closer look. It’s amazing to be fortunate enough to watch these endangered mammals offshore of New England.

Full-grown fin whales are 65 to 80 feet in length and weigh up to 70 tons. They have a very narrow/sleek body (torpedo shape) and easily move through the water – reaching a max speed of 25 knots in short bursts.

Unfortunately finback whale are still being hunted today.  After taking a few looks at the finback whale, it arched its back and headed down for a dive so we pushed out of the area to head to the Bank in search of more whales.

We moved North tp the south end of Stellwagen Bank.  Once we reached the area we spotted a blow or visible exhalation. This turned out to be a humpback whale named Rapier.  Once the trip was over we took a look at the ‘track plotter’ and Captain Ted deciphered from today’s track that Rapier was feeding right along the edge of the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank.

During the rest of the trip we followed Rapier and she stayed right along that contour line of the bank. Along this rise is where the upwelling of the currents takes place – as the currents move in along the ocean bottom and then hit the 100 foot up-rise, the currents are pushed to the ocean surface. This creates a very productive feeding spot for all kinds of creatures.

While we watched we saw her kick feeding. We watched 3 to 4 kicks from Rapier’s big powerful fluke and then she would rise to the surface within her bubbles or just outside of her bubbles – this meant that Rapier was doing the rest of the feeding deeper in the water column.

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All in all, we had a great day offshore watching a finback whale and a humpback named Rapier.

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August 6th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

On Wednesday we had a great day watching humpback whales! We were very lucky to find three individual humpbacks. Our first sighting turned out to be a feeding humpback named Shuffleboard. We watched Shuffleboard traveling, diving and even kick feeding!

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After spending a good deal of time with shuffleboard we moved on to see if we could locate another animal. After only going a short distance, Captain Jonny spotted another blow in the distance. This happened to be a humpback whale named Dyad! Dyad is a female whale that we get to see quite often on the Bank.

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Dyad was a very active animal today – she was feeding using a mechanism know as kick feeding but while doing this she was lifting her left flipper out of the water each time.

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This type of feeding stuns and confuses the small bail fish – this way it makes it easier for the humpbacks to capture the injured fish. We were also able to see Dyad open mouth feeding. After the kicks Dyad would surface with her mouth open and that is when we would get a great look at the baleen plates in the mouth.

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After watching Dyad for a while we pushed off in search of another animal. The next whale we came across is a humpback named Freckles. Freckles is an easy identifiable whale because of the white spots on his dorsal fin.

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We grabbed a couple looks at Freckles and by then we were out of time, we had to turn around and head back toward Provincetown. On our way home we saw Dyad sill kick feeding out in the distance on our starboard side. Captain Jonny was extremely generous – and we veered off track and headed over to Dyad to take another look.

Boy were we glad are captain gave us another look because Dyad really put on a great show! We got to see Dyad kick feeding, open mouth feeding and straining.

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After spending time with Dyad we pushed on and headed home. All in all, we had a great day out on the water watching humpback whales.

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August 5th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

On yesterdays trip we were surrounded by whales, sharks and sea birds!! It was just amazing!  Captain Jonny decided to head toward the back side of Cape Cod instead of heading to Stellwagen Bank. On the back side we reached an area loaded with bait and whales. There were patches of bait jumping all over the place. We watched as the fish breached through the surface as predators underneath pushed them to the surface. As the fish jumped we were able to identify the fish as herring.

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As we sat and drifted we could look in any direction and see whales surfacing – minke whales and finback whales on both sides.

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While watching these finbacks and minkes all of a sudden a humpback whale surfaced. We were taken by surprise because we didn’t think we had a third species in the area. Humpbacks are the species that we LOVE to watch!  This whale took a few breaths and then arched its back and lifted its fluke (heading down for a dive).

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This was a very black tail and we still have not identified this animal.  A good 15 minutes passed while watching the finbacks and minkes and the humpback whale never surfaced, so we pushed out of the area to search for more whales. As we were leaving the area the humpback surfaced behind us and then dove back down. We continued to push on and scan the horizon for whales. While searching we came across countless wilson’s storm petrels along with sooty, great and Cory’s shearwaters. Sitting under a patch of wilson’s storm petrels we found a blue shark! This animal was not frighted by us so as we drifted into the vicinity the shark stayed on the surface and ended up right next to our boat.

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After moving on we found more blue sharks and then all of a sudden we spotted a bigger dorsal fin cutting through the water. This was a basking shark! The shark was swimming just bellow the ocean surface feeding on plankton. As we came into the area we were able to look down into the water and see the animal’s whole body since the water was so calm.

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While watching this basking shark a humpback whale surfaced on our right side. We were again taken by surprise! This humpback surfaced and took a few breaths and then headed down for a dive – meanwhile lifting its fluke so that we could see the underside of the tail.  We later identified this humpback as Palette!

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We stayed in this location for the rest of the trip and while here the humpback surfaced after a 6 minute and 8 minute dive. At one point we had the humpback surface on our right side and then a second humpback whale popped up right next to it. This REALLY took us by surprise!!

Off in the distance we even spotted two more humpback whales come to the surface. BUT these humpbacks that were closer to us were just amazing – to have them so close (and by their chose) was great; you could see and sense the true size of these endangered whales.

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These humpbacks dove back down and we waited for them to resurface. The next time only one of the humpbacks surfaced (the original one we were watching - Palette).  Palette gave us a few more amazing looks since she kept surfacing so close to us.

On our way home we passed lots of finback and minke whales and even a pair of humpbacks – and our captain was nice enough to let us take a look.  All in all, we had a VERY eventful day out on the water, with all three species.

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August 4th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

Today we headed out to Race Point Beach and traveled to the East, instead of going to Stellwagen Bank to our North. This was a nice change because we have been heading to the south-west corner of Stellwagen Bank for most of our whale watch trips this season.

Today was a beautiful day on the water – we had a slight breeze, plenty of sunshine and lots of marine life!

As we were traveling along the beach heading to our destination Captain Jonny swerved around an ocean sunfish. Ocean sunfish are the largest bony fish in the world. This fish we took a quick look at was not too big – probably around 300 to 400 pounds. We continued around the beach and then sighted bows out in front of us. As we made our way into the area we slowed and drifted to get our bearings. We landed in a spot with LOTS of minke whales. These whales were surfacing in every direction – minke whales don’t normally approach boats but these individuals were very interested in us.

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After taking a few looks we pushed on to watch some humpback whales. We stayed with a group of 2 humpbacks who turned out to be Fracture and Pogo. These humpbacks were bubble net feeding! What’s really neat it each year this is an association that we see offshore – Pogo and Fracture traveling and feeding together.

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After watching this pair for some time they moved into an area where there were two more humpbacks.  At the time we were watching these animals we did not know the individuals names; now we know one of the whales names was Grouper the other humpback is still unidentified…  We watched these 4 humpback whales traveling and feeding on this gorgeous day offshore.

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Next we moved off to locate more animals.  Shortly after we can across 4 to 5 humpbacks in the same general area.  In this small group there was a small humpback which we labeled as a calf due to its size.  This calf was not traveling along side its mother nor was it really hanging with the group of adults.  The calf was acting strange; it didn’t have a set travel path, it would just surface quickly in all directions taking one breath of air and then dive back down without fluking (without lifting its tail).

For the rest of our trip we watched these individuals and were able to see a few of the humpbacks ventral fluke patterns as they fluked out but we are still not sure who the calf or its mother is?

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August 2nd, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Michelle

We sure had a crazy day offshore today! Whales were spread out and feeding! We were lucky enough to see two different feeding techniques of humpback whales: kickfeeding and bubble net feeding.

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Kickfeeding is only seen by humpbacks in the Atlantic and involves the whale slapping the surface of the water with its very powerful, 15 foot long fluke. This creates a lot of bubbles which confuses the small schooling fish that they feed on, causing them to school together. The humpback can then come through the middle of that bait ball with its mouth open to eat all of those fish!

Bubble net feeding has the same end result, however it involves the humpbacks blowing columns of bubbles in a spiral pattern to confuse the fish and cause them to school together. We saw both of these techniques close to the boat today! While it was difficult to keep track of individual whales, after looking at our photos, we were able to identify 4 individual humpbacks by the names of Underline, Lariat, Gumdrop, and Grouper.

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At one point, Gumdrop fed right next to us and then dove right under our boat!

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Thanks to all of our whale watchers today!

August 1st, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

Today we had a great whale watch - watching humpback whales. We started the whale watch off with a humpback named Dyad. We were able to watch Dyad traveling and lifting her fluke.

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Dyad is a whale that we have been able to watch for the past couple of days. Dyad is a female whale who was brought a few documented calves back to this area over the years. This year Dyad is not a mother – and has been traveling and feeding by herself for most of the season on the southern part of Stellwagen Bank. After watching Dyad we moved on to search for more animals.

After traveling for a bit we located more blows out in the distance. As we got closer we could see that there were three animals. These three whales turned out to be Pele, Jabiru and Eruption – humpbacks that we have been watching in this area for the past week. These animals have formed an association and are traveling and feeding together, probably because it is benefitting them to do this.

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There were lots of other recreational boats in the area of the whales, and at one point the whales practically surfaced within 5 feet of one of the smaller fishing boats. This frightened the people along with the whales because the whales took off! The whales were charging and trumpeting – so we thought it would be best to move on to look at other animals. After leaving this trio we located a single humpback whale – after the animal fluked out (lifted its fluke) we could confirm that this was a humpback whale named Freckles.  All in all we had a great day offshore watching endangered humpback whales.

July 31st, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

On Thursday we traveled to the edge of the southwest corner to watch whales. As we were coming into the area passengers spotted blows on our left and right sides and Captain Ted spotted three blows off our bow, so we headed straight ahead toward the three animals. As we came into the area we slowed and drifted to wait for the whales to resurface. After a few minutes we watched the three whales resurface! We grabbed amazing looks at this trio – and after watching the whales take a few breaths they arched their backs and lifted their tails to head down for a dive.

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While these humpbacks were diving we were able to grab a look at the undersides of the whales tails (flukes) and could ID them as Pele, Jabiru and Eruption.  This is an association that has been lasting a few days now. It is really interesting to be able to watch this association. It seems that Pele is the whale that always initiated the dives and then Jabiru flukes out second and then Eruption is always last to dive.

As we were drifting we spotted a large dorsal fin out in front of us. A SHARK!! It was a basking shark. Basking sharks are the second largest fish/shark in the world. They are filter feeders just like the large baleen whales. These sharks filter plankton out of the upper part of the water column.

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We moved on from this trio once we sighted another blow ahead of us. Our Captain pushed up ahead and we waited for the whale to resurface. This animal came back to the surface and gave us a fluke out dive. We saw the underside of the whale’s tail and confirmed that it was a whale named Dyad.

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At this point we had to turn around and head home – we had run out of time. On our way hope we didn’t know that we were going to be extremely lucky and watch another humpback whale who tail breached two times!! AND then continued to lobtail!

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And it didn’t stop there we also passed a finback whale! This was the second species of Baleen whale we saw today.

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July 30th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

Wednesday’s whale watch was great! We experienced one of the coolest things I have every seen while on the water today. While watching a humpback whale named Dyad we witnessed him blow a bubble cloud deep in the water column and then lung up capturing a mouth full! Having the water still as glass, we watched this whole thing happen!

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We watch the lower jaw drop down and the ventral pleats expand life an accordion to capture as much fish and water at one time as possible.

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Watching this was a goose bump moment – just breath-taking to witness this!

~ Check out our Facebook album to see the rest of these pictures!

After watching Dyad for a bit more and catching a quick look at an ocean sunfish out in the distance we pushed on to search for more animals. We traveled on to the north searching for more animals. We only traveled a short distance and then we located more blows out in front of us. As we got closer we could see that this was a group of three humpback whales. We sat and watched these three whales and were able to confirm that it was Pele, Jabiru and Eruption.

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We have been seeing these three humpbacks traveling be each other’s sides for the past couple of days now. These whales have formed an association and are sticking together. Normally large baleen whales form short-term associations – usually lasting a couple of hours or days but sometimes we do see them traveling together for weeks.

After watching this group of whales we set out to find more whales – so we traveled to the east and then headed south a bit before turning back to the west. After searching and not locating any whales we got a report that another boat had found a leatherback sea turtle. We wanted to go take a look if possible so we headed for the area where the turtle had been spotted last. We searched around and were not successful so we had to take off and head back towards Provincetown. As we were traveling home our Captain Jonny came to a sudden slow and we had a finback whale in front of us. We were all settled and heading home but to watch another whale was great! This happened to be a finback whale named Loon. Loon is a regular off the coast of Massachusetts. After watching Loon for a few minutes we pushed on back to Provincetown. Overall we had an excellent day offshore!

July 29th, 2014 ~ 12:00 p.m. Whale Watch - Tiffany

Today we had a beautiful calm day offshore watching humpback whales. We started off the trip by watching a single humpback whale. This animal was traveling and after a few minutes at the surface would arch its back and head down for a dive. A few times this animal lifted its fluke (tail) out of the water. When this occurred we were able to grab excellent looks at the underside of the tail fluke. This whale had a very black ventral fluke pattern and we had no idea who the animal was.  (On our way home we compared our photos to the to the catolog and we were able to ID the animal as a whale named Conflux).

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After watching this animal for a few more minutes we moved on to look for more animals in the area. After only traveling for a few minutes we spotted more blows up ahead. This was a good sign! As we moved closer into the area we could tell that there where three animals. We moved into the area and watched.

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We watched as these animals traveled and fluked out before diving. We were able to look at the underside of the fluke as the whales dove and we identified the animals as Pele, Jabiru and Eruption.

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We spent the rest of the trip with this trio – watching as they swan at the surface. A few times these three humpbacks came pretty close to us and we were able to grab great looks and really understand the size of these majestic creatures.

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