July 27, 2015 Whale Watch - Naturalist Krill Carson

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Deadly marine debris.

We headed offshore and found a large concentration of seabirds just east of the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank. Most of the seabirds were shearwaters, including Cory’s, sooty, great, and manx.

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Seabirds.

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Minke whale.

As we moved into this area, we spotted at least 5 to 7 finback whales and 6 to 7 minke whales. We also had at least 10 - 15 humpback whales in the area. All the whales and seabirds were feeding at the surface and this meant that we were treated to an amazing show!

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Kick feeding.

We watched in delight as various humpback whales fed at the surface all around our vessel. One nice surprise was a sighting of Orbit and her calf of this season. This is the first sighting of Orbit and her new calf this season so this was a great find.

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Ventral tail pattern of Orbit.

As we watched Orbit and calf as well as many other humpback whales, we realized just how special our area is to whales and other marine wildlife. Our cold New England waters offer many aquatic animals a unique feeding area, rich in various types of zooplankton and small bait fish. Many of the humpacks, including a whale named Ganesh, were using their tails (flukes) to help them stun and confuse the bait. This type of feeding is called “kick feeding” and it is only seen this species of baleen whale.

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Kick feeding by Ganesh.

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Ganesh kick feeding.

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Lunging by a humpback whale.

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Ganesh straining.

After kicking with their flukes and then diving beneath the school of fish as they blow a bubble net, the whales rise to the surface with mouth wide open. Then they close the mouth and push the salt water back out, leaving only the fish behind. The fish are kept in the mouth due to the baleen, that hair-like material that hangs down from the upper jaw of the animals. Lots of views of humpbacks feeding at the surface.

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Surface feeding.

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Surface feeding.

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Kick feeding.

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Kick feeding.

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Lunging mouth open.

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Lunging.

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Straining.

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Ganesh straining at the surface.

As we continued to watch these animals feed, we noticed splashing a few miles off our bow. As we moved into this area, we found 3 humpback whales being very active. The most active whale was a whale named Nile and she appeared to be traveling with another female named Perseid. The third humpback was a male named Putter. Nile and Perseid appeared very agitated while Putter persued them. Soon Nile was breached a number of times at the surface, giving us a great look at her. At one point in time, Nile rolled over and started flippering at the surface. So great to see just how long the pectoral fins really are. As we continued to watch this trio, we saw Putter eventually move away while Nile and Perseid continued to the north.

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Putter’s ventral tail pattern.

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Nile flippering.

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Spinning head breach by Nile.

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Spinning head breach by Nile.

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Spinning head breach by Nile.

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Spinning head breach by Nile.

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