Nature blossomed in the sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank on this brisk Saturday.

Our 10 am excursion to midbank found us in the midst of a feeding bloom. The Aurora happened upon three finback whales and four Sei whales actively plowing the seas, perhaps for unseen life below the waves. Bow-riding alongside the large mysticetes were groupings of Atlantic white-sided dolphins that were keen to display aqua-batics in our company.

A single humpback did cast its fluke as a spectral flag, and was not seen a second time. A ravenous gray seal paid no mind to the bombardment of herring gulls and plundering northern gannets, making short work of a skate exhumed from the benthic mystery below. This field of dreams yielded a crop of cetaceans small and mountainous, and a second whale watch was certainly warranted.

sei whale
Sei whale feeding
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Atlantic white-sided dolphin
gray seal eating skate
A gray seal feasting on a skate

The Aurora returned to the vicinity of our morning excursion, with hopes of reclaiming visons of mammalian zeppelins on the 2:30 pm trek. Our aspirations were made flesh, as eight Sei whales championed the seas with skims and lunges for prey. Nearly 30 Atlantic white-sided dolphins acted as chauffeurs to their larger kin, with a toothy entourage accompanying each feeding Sei whale. We departed as a distant North Atlantic right whale made itself known with its trademark cleft blow, hewn as a V-shaped trademark to be respected.

Whilst returning to our port of call the emblematic fluking dives of two humpback whales claimed our interests. A synchronized dive of 9 minutes suggested we continue onward, but we were thankful to see these creatures rise for a single breath. The camera’s eye did suspend these flukes in a medium without time, and one humpback whale revealed itself as Whiplash. The second whale showcased a visually arresting pattern yet to be identified, a composition most perplexing for its aesthetic complexity.

As the leviathans reap the seas for their harvest of fishmeal, as do we of the garden of memories, to be tended over the seasons to come.

— Rich and Medha

mystery humpback
Mystery humpback whale
humpback whiplash
Whiplash the humpback whale
map of whale watch boat excursion
Path of the day's whale watches
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