July 21, 2015 - Naturalist Carly Hepburn

Humpback whale and hundreds of seabirds.

We had an incredible day offshore and were able to see 3 different species of whales!  Our first sighting began when we saw seabirds and gulls congregated ahead of the boat.  Both of these types of birds feed on the same small schooling fish as our whales do. When we see them in large groups like this we know there is a good chance that whales will be in the area as well.

Finback whale.

Lunging by a finback whale.

This prediction held true and we saw finback and minke whales all around the boat.  One finback whale repeatedly side-lunged, which is a type of feeding behavior, but it is a very rare and beautiful sight to see!  Both species were feeding and traveling fast, or charging, right at the surface of the water.  We were able to watch them for quite a long time before we continued on.

Echo and Tectonic.

Tectonic’s ventral tail pattern.

Our next sighting was of 2 humpback whales that we identified as Tetonic and Echo.  At the same time we saw a group of 5 humpback whales surface feeding!

Surface feeding.

We were able to watch this group of humpbacks form a bubble net.  A bubble net is formed by a humpback diving down deep and then blowing a constant stream of bubbles from its blowhole while spiraling upwards, which works to trap the baitfish inside.  A humpback will then go right up through the middle of the net with its mouth wide open, taking in a huge gulp of salt water and their food.

Open mouth feeding.

 

Three humpback whales straining.

We stayed in this area for the remaining time on our trip watching this group repeatedly surface feed as more humpbacks continued to surface all around the boat.  All too soon we had to return back to Provincetown after an amazing day offshore!

Minke whale.

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