Whale watching continues to be very good on northern Stellwagen Bank. For the past week whale numbers have remained strong, with between 2 and 12 whales being seen daily.
A group of four Humpback Whales on Stellwagen Bank’s northwest corner.
The exact number of whales that are seen on an “average” trip is difficult to say, as the that number changes depending on weather conditions, sea conditions, and whether-or-not the whales are concentrated in one spot or spread out over a larger area. But the continued presence of large amounts of American Sand Lance (the small schooling fish that whales most prefer to eat in this area) means that there are still good numbers of whales around, and thus we have had many excellent trips of late. Hopefully this pattern will continue for a bit longer!
A breaching Humpback whale calf (“Perseid’s” calf).
I think that it’s important to remember, however, that it is not always the number of whales that you see that makes a whale watch…. it’s the quality of the looks you get and (especially) the behaviors you see. A great example of this the whale watch we had on the afternoon of July 26th when we saw 3 Humpback whales. We started by spending some time watching an adult female named “Hancock” who was traveling and doing some rather long dives. Then we went and watched a pair of whales, “North Star” and “Hippocampus,” who were resting. Despite some very good looks it seemed as if it was going to be a slow trip from a whale-activity standpoint. But just as we were about to leave and start making our way back to Gloucester North Star and Hippocampus erupted into one of the best surface active displays of the season! They began breaching, DOUBLE-breaching, flipper-slapping, tail-lobbing, and performing lots of other great behaviors.
“North Star” (right) and “Hippocampus” (left) breaching.
It was a great trip choreography and made for one of the more memorable trips of the year so far. You never know when these displays might occur. Whale watching is, after all, a nature trip and the animals we see are wild… they are not captive animals trained to perform on command and that’s part of why visiting with them is so much fun: you never know what might happen!
Another short of “North Star” breaching.
We have also seen a few mother and calf pairs recently, in particular we have seen a lot of “Nile” and calf and “Perseid” and calf. Both Nile and Perseid calves are very energetic, playful young whale who who are a lot of fun to watch. We have often seen these two playing at the surface together.
Above: “Nile” with her new calf diving on the foreground.
Below: Nile’s calf taking a peek at our boat!
One more shot of Nile’s calf… this time tail-lobbing. This new calf is a lot of fun to watch!
A Humpback whale diving on Stellwagen Bank.
Well it’s time for me to board the boat again for this morning’s 8:30 whale watch. I am looking forward to seeing what the whales have in store for us today. Be sure to check back soon for another update!