2013 Sightings | September 29

This morning on the Cetacea  we went north to Scantum Basin (past Cape Ann and in New Hampshire state waters). There was a good amount of patchy fog limiting our visibility for a lot of the trip, but it cleared up toward the end. We were able to find two minke whales who only popped up for one or two breaths each, and a fin whale crossed our path at the last minute on our way home.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins

This afternoon we went north of Thatcher Island and found a pod of about 75 to 100 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. They spent some time playing near the boat, which the passengers enjoyed, but there were no large whales in the area.


2013 Sightings | September 28

This morning we started our search for whales on the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. There wasn’t much to be seen in this area so we headed down the bank near the eastern edge and ended up finding a humpback whale.

Look closely toward the front of the whale and you can see the "mittens" underwater

But first we noticed several minke whales in the area. There were at least three deep feeding and popping up consistently near the boat. They were close enough to see the ‘minke mittens’, or bright white bands on their tiny flippers, glowing green under water. We also got very nice looks at the humpback in the area, a male named Peninsula, born in 1985 to humpback Silver. Peninsula was diving for approximately 6 to 7 minutes and gave us a couple great looks at the underside of his fluke. Despite a bit of seas, it was a great trip!

In the afternoon, the Aurora headed we headed south to catch up with Peninsula deep feeding and traveling through the area, taking moderate dives. He showed us his fluke quite a few times, and it was great to see a humpback out on Stellwagen!

Peninsula's fluke

We wrapped up the trip on a scattered group of five minkes, which we observed taking many tight-turns in a similar area, most likely all feeding on the same patch of bait. These minkes weren't shy of the boat — we were treated to a few great close to boat looks before we headed back home to Boston.

A minke whale close to the boat

The minke whales were likely feeding on the same patch of bait nearby the boat

On the Asteria we headed out to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. It was a beautiful day out on the water. Down at the corner we found a single humpback whale and a number of minke whales. We spotted the minke whales every so often but our main focus was the big humpback.

Mystery humpback whale

This whale spent a lot of time down on dives and would only come up for a few breathes. It didn’t show its tail very often so unfortunately we weren’t able to get an ID; it does have a big scar on its dorsal fin which could help to identify which individual it was. It did bring its tail out of the water once, but I wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo. Even though we haven't been able to identify this whale yet, we got some great looks and enjoyed a nice day out on the water.


2013 Sightings | September 25

This morning we headed northeast where we left humpback whale Patches yesterday afternoon. No whales were to be found in the area so we turned to look in a different location when we heard about a couple humpback on the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank.

Salt, the Grande Dame of Stellwagen Bank

These weren’t just any two humpbacks, one of them was Salt! She is the first humpback named and very well known in this area. She was first seen in the mid 1970’s and is commonly found in this area – she’s been known as the ‘Grande Dame’ of Stellwagen. I have not seen her once this year so it was a very special trip! Salt was deep feeding with a whale named Wizard, who was seen several times this season but not with Salt. It was a great trip!

Wizar's reluctant fluke

We went back out to the northwest corner for one of the afternoon trips in hopes that Salt and Wizard would still be there and they were! We got to spend a lot of quality time with them, even though their dive times were a bit longer this afternoon and were averaging about 6-8 minutes in length. Wizard was also diving pretty shallow and reluctant to show the fluke, but we did get one real nice look at it.

Hoping Salt sticks around, we’ve missed her this summer!

Happy Hump(back) day,



2013 Sightings | September 24

This morning we headed north and found two humpback whales north of Thacher Island and south of Jeffrey's Ledge. Whales named Trowel and Patches were hanging out side by side and seemed to be logging (resting) at first, but they were also moving a bit slowly at times and taking 5-6 minute dives. We spent a lot of time with them and it was great to find humpbacks souths of the NH state line!

Trowel's fluke

This afternoon we headed back up north and found Patches a bit further away from where he was this morning with Trowel. Trowel had split from Patches in between our two trips, not uncommon for humpback behavior. First looks at Patches included him waving his pectoral fins and slapping them on the surface. Patches also rolled on his side and back multiple times for us, displaying the ventral pleats on his belly and demonstrating playful humpback behavior!

Patches rolling on his side, demonstrating playful humpback behavior

Two for Tuesday today-great whales back to back and excellent fall whale watching weather!

-- Christine


2013 Sightings | September 22

Today on board the Asteria, we headed to the Southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. After looking around for a bit we found 6 to 8 scattered minke whales. A couple times they were in all directions around the boat, which made spotting for them very fun for passengers.

A pair of minke whales feeding

At one point two individuals actually joined and seemed to be feeding together. We had reports that the seas were going to be a little rough, but the stormy weather cleared and we had a great day on the water.


2013 Sightings | September 20

We went north past Cape Ann and towards Jeffrey's Ledge today and ended up just north and west of the corner of the ledge in New Hampshire state waters. On the way, we saw three individual minke whales, a school of tuna breaching in the distance and a pod of harbor porpoise!

Valley's calf fluking

We kept on our way toward where we heard there was some humpback activity and found Valley and her calf, deep feeding in association with Cacophony. We got consistent flukes from all three whales!

Caucaphony's fluke next to the calf

On the return trip, we stopped to view a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Oh, and Captain Tom spotted a grey seal next to the boat to top it all off!  It was a six species day, not including birds.  We saw a couple gannets, a lot of gulls, and a few shearwater.


2013 Sightings | September 14

Today on the Asteria we headed to Jeffrey’s Ledge and were able to find two scattered fin whales in the area! We also spotted a small pod of harbor porpoise on our way north. It was great to finally find some whales after our drought this week.

A fin's whale: note the distinctive chevron pattern

W spent time with one of the fin whales, that was taking 5 minute dives with short surfacings. Passengers were treated to a fantastic look of the whale’s right side near the end of the trip, so we got a great look at its distinctive chevron pattern. Near the end of the trip the whale became a bit more sporadic with longer dives, so we then began our trip back home.