July 9, 2015 Whale Watch - Naturalist Krill Carson

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Great shearwater.

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Sheatwaters and gulls.

As we headed to the southern end of Stellwagen Bank, we noticed that a large number of shearwaters and gulls had moved into the area. This is a good sign that small baitfish are abundant in our waters. Shearwaters, gulls, and whales feed on the same small schooling fish so we often see them in the same areas offshore. Although we didn’t see a large number of whales offshore, this increase in the number of birds is a good sign for things to come.

Our first sighting was a young humpback whale first seen in 2008 who was hit by a boat last season. The wounds have healed, but it is clear to see that most of the injury is on the animal’s left side.

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Wounds on Northstar’s back.

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Northstar’s ventral fluke.

Northstar survived this collision with a vessel, but many marine animals do not come out so lucky. Even though the United States no longer hunts whales on a commercial basis, there are still many dangers and hazards to their survival in our New England waters. Collisions with small and large vessels offshore is just one of those hazards.

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Wound’s on Northstar’s back.

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Fluke out by Northstar.

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Fluke out by Northstar.

Our next sighting was a pair of humpbacks that were feeding together. We identified this pair as Nile and Pitcher. This pair has been together for the past few weeks which is interesting for humpback whales typically don’t form these types of long-term relationships.

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Exhalation.

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Nile fluking out.

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Nile Fluking out.

As we watched this pair, we noticed that Pitcher had a lamprey attached on her left flank. This is not uncommon to see a lamprey on a whale, but it is not that common. The lamprey will not harm Pitcher given the size of the whale, but it probably causes the animal discomfort.

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Lamprey on Pitcher.

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Zoomed in view of lamprey.

As Nile fluked out to dive deep, we saw the black forked line on the left side of the ventral tail that gives Nile her name. The person who named Nile said that the black line looked like the Nile River, and hence her name.

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Nile’s ventral tail.

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Nile and Pitcher.

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Nile and Pitcher.

Our last sighting was a mother and calf pair that turned out to be no other than Spoon and her 2015 calf. This mother and calf pair have been seen quite a lot over the course of the past few weeks. Mom appeared to be feeding deep while the calf was spending more time on the surface. A great day offshore. We hope you can join us soon for these amazing views of endangered marine animals.

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Spoon’s ventral tail pattern.

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Spoon’s calf surfacing off our bow.

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