29th 2008
First whale watch of 2008

Posted under whale watches

Yes, it happened a little while ago, May 3 to be exact, but I’ve been busily getting this site set up so have some post-catching up to do!

On to the good stuff. I went out for my first trip of the year from Gloucester, MA on an Earth Day whale watch fundraiser for the Whale Center of New England. The trip was on the Capt. Bill and Sons boat on which I went out several times last year. We wound up with an early spring New England day: overcast, chilly, and with some rain. Still, we were off to see whales! We left the dock at 9 AM and got back in around 4:30. Many of the Whale Center staff were on board, including Mason Weinrich, the exec director who did much of the narration. Mason can ID whales faster than anyone I’ve seen, so it’s always a treat to be out on one of his trips.

The day of watching started like the whales were feeling the weather, too… the first group we came upon as we reached the northern part of Stellwagen Bank were not “doing” much, i.e. not being very surface active. Still, it’s always nice to see whales!

Springboard, breachingBy noon, we had found a much more active whale, identified as Springboard. She thrilled us with a show that included breaching and flipper slapping. We were in the vicinity of the BE Buoy by this time. For me, nothing is more thrilling than seeing a whale breach.

As the day went on, we did find several other clusters of whales. Among the whales ID’d was Zeppelin, most typically see in the Great South Channel. This was the first time she had been seen in the Stellwagen Bank area for several years. Later in the day, in a separate group, a calf of Zeppelin’s, Milkweed, was “cavorting” with some others.

Chin breach from SpringboardNew fact for me on the day – I love that, no matter how many whale watches I’ve been on (I think I am up to 30-40 by now), I always learn something new. Since it is early in the season and the whales are just returning to these feeding grounds, Mason commented that he can tell some of them are looking a little thin after the long fast. And how can he tell? The appearance of a shoulder blade on the side, just behind the blowholes. I managed to catch it on film when Springboard did a chin breach. You should be able to see it in this photo.

All in all, cold and wet but still and always amazing. Named humpbacks that were announced during the trip included: Hancock, Falcon, Rapier, Glo (easy to identify since she is missing much of her left fluke), Photon, Springboard, Reflection, Zeppelin, Crystal (first known calf of Stellwagen Bank’s grand dame, Salt, who I still have yet to see!), Milkweed, Glowstick, Buzzard. There was an announced sighting of a fin whale, but I did not see it.

Gallery to be posted soon. Will make a post when it is up. Plus, I’ve done more whale watches since so will be making new posts on those.

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