It was another ridiculously spectacular day aboard the Sanctuary with Captain Dave. Before leaving the dock, we joked that the last few times we had worked together would be too hard to beat… little did we know the whales today would rise to the challenge!

Flying Echo calf

We started on the northwest corner with reports from the Cetacea, however before we could make it to the whales they had been watching, two more surfaced to our northeast. We started the trip with our latest “regular”, Dyad, but also were lucky enough to have the duo Ember and Cantilever come right over. Lately it seems like the Sanctuary (aptly named!) has been a whale magnet.

Echo and calf double breach

We were having a great trip with these three, when from a distance we could see a little whale soar up and out of the water over a mile away… As we approached, both the calf and mom, Echo, continued breaching, more than 15 times! This air show didn’t stop once we got closer, and we were treated to double breaches, tandem breaches, whales rolling over, and a spy hop from the calf. As if that wasn’t enough, Alporn suddenly appeared just under the bow, out of absolutely nowhere! Cygnus also swam through the path we had just made, so close to the stern that I couldn’t see- intern Taylor pointed out the flopped over dorsal fin, making it easy to determine it wasn’t one of the whales we had watched yet.

Echo teaching baby to breach
Echo calf spyhop

So how could you beat that? In our case, head right back out for the 2:00 trip! We once again spent some quality time with Dyad, who had sped up her pace a bit from the morning and was taking slightly longer dives.

Etch-A-Sketch kicks hello

We kept our eyes on three other humpbacks nearby, and eventually cruised over to visit. As we approached, one whale began kick feeding, with her trademark series of three kicks. Etch-a-Sketch is a favorite of mine, and the baby next to her seemed a bit smaller than Echo’s from this morning. The pair was traveling with an escort, Cantilever, and fed intermittently throughout our time with them. Imagine the shock and awe that passengers (and crew!) felt when Etch-a-Sketch began kicking just a few FEET from the side of the boat. How often do you get a whale so close, you can see its hair?! (Look for the tiny white lines on the top of the tubercles). As this was happening, the calf swam in circles around mama, staying out of the way but still close to her side. Cantilever reaped the benefits of Etch-a-Sketch’s impressive moves, and the two adults came up with huge open mouths, allowing passengers to see the baleen inside up close.

Etch-A-Sketch scratch and hair

As I ran to the train after trying to summarize the day, I bumped into a family from the afternoon trip, and we had a moment to reflect on the incredible day we had.