Wednesday, September 9, 2015 Whale Watch - Naturalist Krill Carson

Ocean sunfish

On today’s trip, we had great looks at a large ocean sunfish that was resting at the surface. This is the heaviest bony fish in the world and a common visitor to our cold and productive New England waters. Ocean sunfish migrate into our waters just like the big baleen whales, but instead of feeding on small fish, ocean sunfish feed on jellyfish, ctenophores, and other gelatinous critters.

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Ocean sunfish next to the boat.

The New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) sponsors a community sighting network of ocean sunfish and basking sharks. They would love to hear about your sightings of these two coastal pelagic fish so go to www.nebshark to learn more.

 

 

 

Although we no longer hunt whales on a commercial basis, there still are many threats to their survival. One is getting hit by fast boats and another is getting entangled in fishing gear. As we waited for the sunfish to surface, we watched a recreational boat zooming right past a finback whale. Luckily the whale surfaced a good distance away from the boat, but it was a bit tricky there for a few seconds.

 

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Recreational boat zooming past a finback whale off Race Point Beach.

Next we moved into an area with quite a few humpback whales. Humpbacks are an endangered species of baleen whale that migrates into our waters to feed each spring, summer, and fall. It was great seeing so many whales in one small area.

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Humpback whale what the surface.

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Fluke out by a humpback whale.

 

As we slowly moved through the area, we saw a humpback fluke out right next to the boat. Times like these remind us of how very large and immense these gentle giants truly are.

Fluke out dive.

 

Many of the humpbacks in this area were small in size, indicating that they were juveniles or young individuals within the population. Since the beautiful black and white pattern on the ventral or bottom of the flukes acts like a fingerprint for this species, we are able to identify and track known individuals over the course of the season and from one season to the next.

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Fluke out sequence of Aswan. Image 1.

 

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Fluke out sequence of Aswan. Image 2.

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Fluke out sequence of Aswan. Image 3.

Many of the whales were feeding at or near the water’s surface. It was great to see mouth’s wide open as different whales all around our vessel were charging around after the bait fish. Enjoy the photos from the rest of our trip.

Humpback whale named Jungle. Jungle is straining at the water’s surface.

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Jungle surfacing just off our bow.

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Pivot surfacing off our starboard side.

Unknown humpback straining with birds all around.

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Finback whale.

Jungle straining or pushing the salt water back out of the mouth.

 

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Straining by Aswan and Draco.

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Open mouth feeding.

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Surface feeding right next to the boat on the port side.

Flipper slapping.

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Pivot lobtailing on the left while the calf is traveling slowly on the right.

 

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