Monday, September 7, 2015 Whale Watch - Naturalist Krill Carson

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Race Point Light

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Off road vehicles on Race Point.

As we passed Race Point on our way offshore, we had a fabulous sighting of finback whales feeding in Race Rip. Four finbacks surfaced right next to the boat off our port side. This gave us an incredible view of the blaze and chevron, the pigmentations mainly on the right side of the head and body.

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Finback whale surfacing off our Port side.

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Blaze visible on the right side of the finback’s body.

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Long, torpedo-shaped body of the finback whale.

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Finback whale.

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Two finbacks at the surface.

Finbacks are the only species of type of whale that has an asymmetry to their body coloration. The right side of the lower jaw is white, while the left side of the lower jaw is grayish-brown like the rest of the animal. And like other baleen whales, finbacks have a unique size and shape to their dorsal fin which helps us identify individuals in the population.

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Right dorsal fin of the finback.

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Right dorsal fin of a second finback whale in this group.

As we continued north, we came into an area with 10 - 15 humpback whales. Most were feeding deep alone or in pairs. One pair turned out to be a mother and calf that I  haven’t seen all season, Pivot and calf. Both were traveling at the surface and were not associating with the other humpbacks in the area.

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Fluke out dive by Pivot.

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Ventral tail pattern of Pivot.

A small humpback was also on its own, and it had scars indicating it was recently entangled in fishing gear. There was a long and deep depression forward of the animal’s dorsal fin and the dorsal fin was very scarred. I sent photos of this animal to the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies to assist in their disentanglement program.

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Humpback with deep depression forward of dorsal fin.

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Depression visible on right flank.

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Ventral tail pattern of humpback with entanglement scars.

As we held position for the whales in this area, I noticed a small shark swimming close to the boat on the port side. I think this is a blue shark, but we never got a really good look at the animal.

 

 

 

 

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Dorsal fin of blue shark.

The most exciting sighting was a trio that turned out to include Putter (a male) who joined Pivot and calf. This trio was very excited as they charged around the area for over a half hour. I have no idea what was going on for it seemed that this encounter was not a positive one. It seemed as if Putter was trying to separate the mother and her calf, and Pivot was having none of it.

 

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Pivot’s calf doing a chin breach.

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Pivot’s calf flipping its flukes out of the water.

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Pivot and calf. Calf is upside down thrashing with its flukes.

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Pivot and calf charging.

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Pivot’s calf thrashing next to Putter.

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Pivot’s calf charing.

At one point, Pivot breached out of the water and made a tremendous splash. That didn’t seem to calm things down as the trio continued to charge through the area. Just an incredible scene, one that I have never witnessed before offshore.

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Spinning head breach by Pivot.

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Putter.

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Fluke out dive by Putter.

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