Yesterday aboard the Sanctuary with Captain Jonny we trekked out to our favorite humpback whale stomping ground and came upon several scattered pairs northeast of the southwest corner. As we made our way into the area we sighted one whale doing quite a bit of flipper slapping as well as another pair nearby. At one point we had four whales, two on either side of the boat! One pair moved on and we stuck with the juvenile flipper slapper and the larger adult, who had many scars on her back likely from a vessel strike. When she dove we were able to see that this whale was Crown, unfortunately very easily identified by the entanglement scars on her fluke. While it’s always sobering to see that has been through as much as she has, she provides a great opportunity to talk about the types of threats that our whales face.

humpback whale crown's fluke
Crown's fluke with entanglement scars

Her smaller companion turned out to be a calf from 2014 that was recently named Campground, who continued to flipper slap right next to us! Crown eventually split from Campground to join up with Bolide, another female who was initially travelling by herself through the area. All while we were watching Campground, we noticed two different pairs of humpbacks in the distance responding with flipper slaps of their own. Towards the end of our trip we went over to check out one of these pairs that eventually split before we got there, leaving us with another single that continued to flipper slap and roll for several minutes.

humpback whale campground flipper slapping
Campground flipper slapping
whale flipper slapping
Flipper slapping

On the sunset trip at 5PM, we traveled to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank and were greeted by several enthusiastic breaches, tail breaches, chin slaps, and tail slaps by Nile’s 2016 calf. This little calf played at the surface while mom possibly did some foraging or searching below. 

In the area there were also several other pairs, and we eventually left to go check out these other individuals, however when we got there they had all merged together near Nile and her calf. Two calves began playing at the surface as the adults surfaced and dove in quick succession, very obviously in search mode for some fish. Our other four whales turned out to be Alphorn, Pele, Echo and her calf!

— Heidi and Linnea

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