2014 Sightings | July 25

Today on board the Cetacea for the 9am whale watch, we traveled to just south of the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Once there we found 9 scattered humpbacks. We first had a glimpse of Hancock, but another boat was viewing her so we kept traveling. Next we spent some time with Scylla and her 2014 calf.


The calf was a little distance away from its mom but as soon as Scylla would surface the calf would swim to her quickly. Scylla was taking 5-6 minute dives and bubble cloud feeding. Then we traveled further south and east into mid-bank where we found Fracture and Wyoming bubble net feeding together.

Fracture's fluke

Passengers loved seeing the bubbles appear at the surface and anticipating the whales arrival! With our last look at this pair, a third humpback joined in. It was Jabiru! There were lots of Greater Shearwaters, Herring gulls, and Laughing gulls in the area as well.

For the 1:30 whale watch, we went back to where we had left the whales on the earlier trip. First we came across Pepper, who was doing 8-9 minute dives and traveling. We continued searching towards the east but didn’t have much luck until we saw some unusual splashing. Once we approached, we found a fast moving, probable lunge feeding minke whale.

Minke's lunging

To wrap up the trip we traveled back towards some other whale watching vessels and observed Northstar and Hippocampus. The pair was traveling slow and taking short dives. Just as we were getting our last looks the pair changed their behavior and began to breach!!

Northstar and Hippocampus

Pectoral flipper slapping

Big thanks to Captain Jimmy for sticking around for a couple extra minutes to see their amazing acrobatic behaviors. The pair spent some time breaching separately and simultaneously. As well as photos of the pair pectoral flipper slapping in unison. It was an unbelievable finale to our day.

Hippocampus breach

— Hannah


Today was a pleasant day out on the bank. Our 10am whale watch was lucky enough to come across three of our good friends in the Northwest corner.

Bayou's fluke was heavily damaged by a propeller


Bayou, out first humpback sighting was taking slow dives, giving passengers a great look at his prop-mangled right fluke. We then spent some time with Hippocampus and Northstar. Northstar’s recent dorsal injuries in conjunction with Bayou’s fluke nearby really emphasized for our passengers what a huge threat human vessels pose in the whale world.

Northstar with recent injuries to its dorsal fin

We then moved on a little further south to see an unidentified humpback, two minke whales, two fin whales and humpback Fracture and Wyoming together. They treated our boat to two lovely bubble rings. The water, weather, and whales made today a truly phenomenal day to be out on Stellwagen.

Standing room only for the big show

— Grace (intern) and Tegan (naturalist)


This afternoon aboard the Aurora, we spent most of our time with a familiar fluke. If you guessed Hancock, you’re correct!

Hancock wows the crowd

She was mostly exhibiting a behavior that we’re used to with her. She repeatedly took fluking dives only to resurface 30 seconds later. Usually a lifted fluke indicates that a humpback is going down for a dive but this is not always the case, especially with Hancock.

Hancock tail waggling

Hancock tail flip

She did, however, make some moves that we are not used to. At one point, she raised her fluke high in the air and, instead of slamming it on the surface of the water as whales often do, she waved it around and slumped back down into the water. I’m not sure exactly what she was doing but this definitely had guests oohing and ahhing!

Northstar with damaged dorsal fin

We eventually continued on to two whales nearby who turned out to be Northstar and Hippocampus, a duo who were also seen together yesterday. Northstar, a recently injured humpback, was for the most part exhibiting normal behavior.

A view of Northstar's doral fin from the other side

I did notice that he/she flattened out, resting his/her fluke on the water for about 5-10 seconds before each dive but nonetheless lifted his/her fluke high up into the air. This may or may not be normal behavior for Northstar. As we continue to monitor Northstar’s condition we can only make speculations as to the cause of the injury.

A head-on look at Northstar's injured back

Considering the extent of Northstar’s injury, it is amazing how active this humpback continues to be. The resilience of these whales always amazes me!

— Tasia Blough

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