As we made our way offshore for the 12pm whale watch yesterday, we received word of the entangled humpback whale that had been sighted by earlier boats. By the time we arrived in the area where whale watching boats had been standing by the entangled animal, the Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team had arrived and were already at work in freeing the humpback from the fishing gear that was trailing from its body.

So as to not disrupt an already incredibly difficult task, Captain Dave kept us a good distance from the team as they attempted to disentangle the humpback from the gear. From what we could see, it appeared that the team had already accessed the trailing gear and attached to it a number of orange buoys meant to aid in tracking the handicapped animal and keep it at the surface. Throughout the 5 to 10 minutes that we observed the disentanglement, it was obvious that a second whale accompanied the one that was entangled. We suspected that these whales were a cow calf pair, but it was unclear at the time which individual was entangled.

whale disentanglement team
Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team working to free whale

Although our observations were brief, seeing the valiant efforts of the disentanglement team provided a great opportunity for our passengers to understand the reality of the threats that these whales face and to appreciate the hard work and dedication of the disentanglement team. As we cruised away, everyone on board began to cheer on and applaud the team who, over the past couple decades, has saved the lives of hundreds of entangled animals!

 

two humpback whales at surface
Bristle and Milkweed feeding next to boat

It wasn’t long before we came across a juvenile humpback recently named UFO followed by a familiar trio. Milkweed, Jabiru, and Bristle must have been feeding just beneath the boat, because time after time they surfaced on either side of us dousing passengers with snarge as they skimmed by our pulpits!

 

humpback calf chin breaches
Millkweed's calf at the surface

Upon leaving the dock for our 5pm trip, we were relieved to hear that the disentanglement team had successfully freed the humpback of fishing gear and that Storm and her calf (as we suspected) swam quickly away immediately following the disentanglement! HOOORAY!!!!!!

humpback whale calf full breach
Milkweed's frisky calf!

Our sunset trip was absolutely gorgeous. We spent time with a couple different mom and calf pairs: Twine and calf, followed by Music and calf, accompanied by Spirit. As we took in the surrounding activity and considered which whales to investigate (of the dozen or so in the area), it was clear that energy levels had decreased. Initially feeding in groups of 3-6, associations began to split and most whales rested quietly at the surface. Luckily Music’s playful calf was not in the mood for rest, and both he and mom exhibited excellent breaching displays!

As we made our way home, the horizon glowed a brilliant red beneath dark, threatening clouds which soon began dropping powerful bolts of lightning! We celebrated Storm’s successful disentanglement with the storm that made its way across the Boston skyline as we entered the harbor.

Tasia

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