July 22, 2015 - Naturalist Carly Hepburn

Kick feeding by Lavalier.

Finback Whale.

We had a gorgeous trip offshore today with Provincetown Whale Watch with sightings of 3 different species of whale; minke, finback, and humpback.  We also saw many different types of seabirds and gulls including Wilson Storm Petrels, Cory’s shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, and great shearwaters.

As we continued offshore off our bow further in the distance we saw large groups of seabirds and gulls.  We headed towards that area because seabirds and gulls indicate that the area is a very productive area.  As we got closer, we were able to see all 3 species of whales, that were surfacing all around the boat both near and far.

Ventral tail pattern of Coral.

In this area we saw 2 humpback whales traveling together.  We were able to identify this duo as Coral and Lavalier.  Coral has many distinctive markings on the underside of her fluke called rake marks that allow us to easily identify her when we are offshore.  Rake marks are caused by the teeth of orca whales.

Flippers exposed at the surface.

Nimbus off the bow.

After watching many different whales surface all around the boat we saw a big splash off the left hand side of the boat so we headed in that direction in search of more sightings.  We came up to 2 more humpback whales, which turned out to be a mother and calf pair.

Nimbus and calf.

Ventral tail pattern of Nimbus.

Nimbus’s calf.

We were able to identify a number of the humpback whales using natural body  markings and pigmentation patterns on their bodies. This benign or non-invasive technique takes a lot of time and effort, but does not interfere with the animal in any way.

Lavalier.

We saw the calf roll slightly and got great looks of its long pectoral flippers.  A humpbacks pectoral flippers are the longest of any whales, and can be about 1/3 the length of their body, and are on average 14-16 feet.

We were able to watch this pair moving all around the boat for a long period of time before we had to make our way back to Provincetown Harbor.

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