Monday, August 27, 2015 Whale Watch - Naturalist Krill Carson

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Balloon at the surface.

As we headed out of Provincetown Harbor towards Stellwagen Bank, we saw quite a lot of marine debris at the water’s surface. Marine debris like balloons are some of the most dangerous types of trash that is in our oceans. We always encourage passengers not to release helium balloons for any event or activity for they can travel great distance and they often land in someone else’s home or habitat. Many marine animals, like sea turtles and ocean sunfish, accidentally eat balloons and plastic bags for they look like jellyfish which comprises their main diet. If you want to release something for an event, try balloons or butterflies.

Convict and Canopy.

Our first whale sighting was a pair of humpback that we identified as Convict and Canopy. Both whales were feeding together, but not at the surface. There must have been a lot of bait on the southern end of the bank today for the whales were working hard each time they came to the surface to breath. Their explosive exhalations were a sign of hard work down below.

Canopy’s ventral tail pattern.

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Convict’s dorsal flukes. Notice the white parallel lines which are killer whale rake marks.

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Fluke out dive by Convict.

Our next sighting was a single humpback whale who had a very distinctive dorsal fin. This fin was very squarish in shape with few markings on either side. We will be analyzing these images through our connection with the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) who will send all the sighting and photographic data collected onboard our boats to the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

Squarish dorsal fin.

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Fluke out dive by whale with squarish dorsal fin.

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Minke whale diving off our bow.

Also in this area were a number of minke whales, the smallest of all the baleen whales. Although not a slowly animal, this beautiful whale is commonly seen in our cold northern waters. Off our bow, we could see lots of splashing, a good indication that we had a feeding whale at the surface. This turned out to be Etch-a-Sketch, a female humpback whale that is the granddaughter of Salt, the most famous humpback in our waters.

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Etch-a-Sketch fluking off our bow.

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Kick feeding by Etch-a-Sketch.

Etch-a-Sketch kick feeding.

 

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Lifting the tail high as she kick feeds.

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Kicking.

 

Mouth open as Etch-a-Sketch lunges at the surface.

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Straining at the water’s surface.

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Satellite tag wound.

It was great to see Etch-a-Sketch do this very showy feeding behavior. At one point during our whale watch, Etch-a-Sketch surfaced off our bow, giving us a chance to see the old satellite tag wound on her left flank. The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies is conducting a satellite tagging research project on the humpback population in our coastal waters. You can go to their website and learn more.

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Looking into the mouth of the whale. The hairy baleen is now visible.

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Straining.

 

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Straining after lunging through the bubble net.

We saw many more whales including Cardhu and her calf of this year. An incredible whale watch for one and all onboard the boat today. I wonder what tomorrow has in store for us?

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Charging after the bait fish.

 

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