Today we escaped the heat out in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary aboard the Cetacea. On our morning 9am trip, we headed to the SW corner of the bank, where we found a small fin whale and several minke whales. After catching some looks at this smaller fin whale, we headed a little further north closer to mid-bank, where we finished up the trip with a large fin whale, giving us a great final look of the day by crossing our bow.

 

fin whale
Fin whale

On our second 1:30 pm trip, we heard some reports of humpbacks on the middle of the bank, so we headed in that direction to see what we could find. Our first sighting was of a female humpback named Shuffleboard, who was doing some subsurface bubble net feeding. Eventually she started coming up the surface doing high filters (ie a mouth FULL of water and fish – see photo). A few times she surfaced right alongside our boat, a nice reward for being patient and not trying to get too close to her purposely. We also spotted humpback Dross, doing a similar type of feeding.

 

shuffleboard filtering
Shuffleboard filter feeding

Since it’s a holiday weekend, I want to also use this time to mention safe boating habits around whales. We see a lot of recreational boats around whales during weekends and holidays this time of the summer, and often many of these boaters are not aware of how to safely boat around whales. A great website to visit and spread is See a Spout. During our afternoon trip we unfortunately witnessed a fishing vessel transit at full speed right through one of Shuffleboard’s bubble nets, narrowly avoiding Shuffleboard. Vessel harassment such as this can be reported to the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement. Unfortunately, small vessel strikes with whales are highly unreported, so for this holiday weekend and all summer long, I encourage everyone to spread the word about safe boating habits and to report any vessel harassment to the NOAA OLE.

— Laura Howes

Enjoy these additional pictures from the whale watch!

whales and boats
Boats and whales
shuffleboard filter feeding
Shuffleboard feeding
shuffleboard humpback whale
Humpback whale Shuffleboard
fin whale
Fin whale