2014 Sightings | May 26

Yesterday on board the Aurora, we headed towards the Southwest corner of Stellwagen once again. We found lots of activity in all directions.

Open-mouth feeding

First we stopped to quickly view 2 fin whales that were traveling side-by-side. A minke whale popped up for a quick sighting as well. We saw lots of blows in the distance, so we moved onward. Next we spent some time with a mom and calf pair, Vulture and her 2014 calf. Vulture treated passengers to a great look at her 15 foot long white pectoral flipper with some pectoral slapping. We spotted a distant single humpback, that turned out to be Ase! Yesterday was the first day that we spotted Ase, which is always exciting to have another new returning individual. Next we wanted passengers to have a chance to view some feeding behavior, so we moved on to a group of 4 humpbacks that were bubble net feeding at the surface. The group was Springboard, Pepper, Orbit, and Geometry. Passengers loved getting glimpses of these humpbacks' baleen with each surfacing (see picture above). Another lone humpback passed that turned out to be Amulet, a female born in 1987.

Springboard, Pepper, Orbit, and Geometry open-mouth feeding

On the 5:30 trip, we traveled south again. When we first arrived to the area, it felt like the day was winding down in the way of activity level, but we were wrong. In the distance we spotted two humpbacks, a mom and a calf, that were continuously breaching but sadly stopped once we approached. It was Echo and her 2014 calf. Maybe mom was teaching her calf that amazing breaching behavior or possibly encouraging it to strengthen its tail muscle. We stayed with Echo and her calf for a few surfacings.

Canine's fluke

Next we moved towards a few distant blows and a large swarm of herring gulls. Upon arrival we found 2 different groups of surface bubble net feeding humpbacks. We viewed one group of three: Pepper, Aswan and Canine! It was the first time we spotted Canine this season. Canine has a type 5 fluke (almost all black), was born in 2004 to Siphon (who first spotted in 1988), and is a common visitor to Bar Harbor, Maine.

It was really great to see another new individual out on the bank. Possibly it's a sign that more humpbacks are arriving in the area! And we observed a group of four: Springboard, Geometry, Samara, and Orbit. Cajun popped up in the mix as well. At one point the 2 groups joined, then separated again. It was a tough trip in the way of data collection because the groups were constantly changing members, but great for passengers!

— Hannah Pittore

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