This morning the Sanctuary headed to the south east of Stellwagen Bank for the 10am whale watch. Our time in the area started with a bang with several breaches from two different animals, one in the distance that breached 7 times and three from an well-known we later identified as Canopy.

As we watched we spotted a few other animals including Infinity and Venom and her calf. We spotted another splash and proceeded to find Scylla and her calf both breaching and flipper slapping. They both displayed what is perhaps my favorite breaching variation – the chin slap. In this the whale propels itself straight forward out of the water, landing on its chin. Sometimes the lower lips wobbles open and you can capture silly looking photos like figure skaters mid-spin. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why humpback whales breach but seeing so many amazing instances of these behavior today didn’t diminish at all by having no clue why we so lucky.

Captain Dave brought the Sanctuary to an area just south of the shipping lanes for the 2pm trip where we were lucky to suddenly spot two huge breaches. As we approached the whales didn’t let up and we got breach after breach followed by a great display of flipper slapping. We quickly identified Mayo and Komodo.

Most humpback whales in the North Atlantic have white on both the top and bottom of the pectoral fin making it very easy for us to spot the animals below the water but a small number have black on the top of the pectoral fin. Mayo is one of these such whales and we got some great looks at this pigment difference between the two whales. Mayo also has a much whiter throat and stomach than many of the other whales seen on Stellwagen Bank. These differences in pigmentation are likely just genetic oddities like difference in human hair and eye color. Suddenly a third whale cropped up who we were able to identify as Treasure Before long it was time to leave but not without one last breach by Mayo.

-Tegan

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