Today we had an amazing day out at the bank. This morning, we spotted a few harbor porpoises right outside Boston Harbor. We were then lucky enough to spot blows almost immediately upon arriving to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. These blows belonged to quite a few animals as we found two to three fin whales, 3 humpbacks, and between 40 and 60 north Atlantic white sided dolphins. These animals were all feeding in the same area. All of the large whales were unassociated for most of the visit, with two of the humpbacks joining and splitting from each other twice during the hour we were with the whales. We were able to identify these two humpbacks as Sundown and Banjo. Both of these whales were creating bubble nets and were open-mouth surface feeding. The other humpback seemed to be feeing underwater nearby without ever showing its fluke.

Sundown the whale fluking
Sundown fluking in front of passengers

This afternoon, we headed out to the same spot and were immediately rewarded again, spotting a minke on the way out and then finding numerous blows once on the bank. The North Atlantic white sided dolphins were still abundant in the area. We found a fin whale early on, but decided to investigate the humpbacks instead. We were treated once again to some great looks from Sundown, but Banjo did not make a reappearance. Instead, Scratch joined Sundown in some bubble feeding for a while before splitting up again. Scratch was doing something which I have never seen before after each bubble net. Each time, Scratch would come up with an open mouth, close it, and then proceed to swim forward with just the face above water with the mouth closed. A number of birds were actually landing on Scratch’s head to catch a ride during these times.

When we thought our whales were separating from each other, we were shocked to see three humpback all surface at one. These three were Sundown, Scratch, and Buzzard. These whales fed together for only a short time before Scratch and Sundown headed off. We stayed with Buzzard who was lifting its tail high into the air and slapping it occasionally against the water. On our last looks with Buzzard, we were shocked again to have three additional whales pop up with Buzzard, bringing our total number of humpbacks for the afternoon to six. I am still trying to identify these three individuals.

Sundown bubble netting
Sundown bubble net feeding

Overall an amazing day on whales with some interesting behaviors and lots of individuals.

— Danielle G.

Tags:

,