July 30, 2019
This morning on Jeffreys Ledge, we watched Pinball and her calf just off the coast of Rockport and Thacher Island. Pinball blew numerous bubble clouds and came up sporadically in all directions, and the calf stayed relatively close to her compared to what we’ve observed in recent trips.
A minke whale swam close by the starboard side, allowing a great size comparison between the two species. Pinball was making some far movements but eventually settled down to nurse the calf for a bit. In the calm water, it was easy to track the whales as they swam just beneath the surface. I overheard a passenger say to their family that they thought they saw another animal swim under the boat and from her description it sounded very much like a mola mola. I always recommend constantly searching for other animals even after watching whales for some time because there are lots of critters to be spotted out there and can only be found by looking.
By the afternoon Pinball and her calf had traveled north and were in the company of a number of other whales. We stayed with the pair for a bit before Satula swam by in one close approach, but before long he erupted in a gigantic breach in the distance. After a second breach we wondered if we should try to follow him, and it was the third that made up our minds.
We were very lucky that he continued with spinning breaches, chin breaches, and a bit of lob tailing. We often say that a main theory for breaching is communication, but another is that the movement aids in digestion. Well, today we had to chance to observe why, as the height and distance we could see whale poop fly during some of these moves was quite impressive!
Another whale was seen flipper slapping, which we thought might be a response. But as we got closer and found that it was Spoon, we changed our thinking to possibly her stretching after her naps (check out the minke in the background of her photo).
We also watched minke whales, a gray seal, northern gannets, great and sooty shearwaters, Wilson’s storm petrels, common terns, and gulls, but the true bonus of the day came early with a rare sighting of a brown booby! A relative of the gannets, I’ve been hearing reports of at least one of these birds in the area and was excited to see one for myself. What a great day in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
– Laura L. and Janelle