2014 Sightings | August 29

This morning on the 9am whale watch we headed out into some choppy seas towards the southern part of Stellwagen Bank. Despite the rough seas we had very good visibility and just off the western edge of the bank we spotted some blows. We approached the area and found three humpback whales.

Nile and her calf

They all seemed to be logging, just resting at the surface and occasionally making low non-fluking dives. It was pretty easy to identify Nile and her calf and while I had an inkling that the third whale was Storm, it wasn’t until the very end of the trip that this was confirmed when all three whales went down on a fluking dive.

Nile, action shot!

Nile's playful calf

Nile and calf have been consistently seen with other whales in the area over the past few days, whether just singles like Storm or larger groups (but these associations have been very loose). The pair have also been seen breaking off of the other groups to spend time resting and maybe some nursing, though I haven’t observed that behavior yet this summer. It was a great days to have a some very dramatic looks at these animals.

Pectoral flipper

On the 1:30 whale watch we headed out to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank and luckily the seas had settled a tiny bit though we still had some big swells. Just north of the corner we found Nile and her calf for the second time today. This time however they were making much more active dives.

Mystery whale

They were then joined by a third whale which despite the fluke photograph I captured we haven’t managed to be able to identify. With this calf we saw a little bit more active behavior, some pectoral fin slapping and tail lobs. The group took a few more active dives before splitting up and Nile and calf spent some time resting at the surface. Once again it was fantastic to see these animals.



Today on board the Salacia for the 10am whale watch, we traveled out to the southern portion of Stellwagen Bank to look for whales. When we arrived at the bank we quickly found 3 humpback whales. It was Storm, Nile, and her calf.

Storm, Nile, and her calf

As we approached this group, we noticed that the calf was ducking under the surface frequently while alternating sides of Nile. Most likely the calf was nursing! All three of the whales were taking short dives, just 1-3 minutes, both fluking and non-fluking. We spent the majority of the trip with this trio. At one point, Storm turned on its side and treated all the passengers to an amazing quick look at its long pectoral flipper.

With the remainder of our trip, we traveled over to another humpback in the area, but as soon as we got close the individual took a dive. Luckily we were able to get some photos of its dorsal fin to ID it. It was Jabiru. As we were waiting for Jabiru to resurface, we spotted 2 other blows less than a half-mile away so we went to investigate. It was Pele and Eruption! We had just enough time for one look at this duo before turning back to Boston.

I hope everyone has an excellent Labor Day Weekend!

— Hannah Pittore


On our 12pm whale watch aboard the Aurora, we spent time with humpback whales Jabiru and Storm just north of the southwest corner of the bank where they were slowly traveling south back towards the corner.

Humpback whale

The southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank is rich with food and a popular spot for whales to hang out throughout the feeding season. We had beautiful looks of both whales as they swam through the water making sounding dives each time they submerged themselves.

After some time with this duo, we moved on to Nile and calf who were logging nearby. As we slowly approached the mom and her calf, they appeared to wake up and dove right beneath the boat! There were more birds in the area than we’ve generally been seeing including sooty, great, and Cory’s shearwaters in addition to a couple juvenile northern gannets!

Lazing at the surface

— Tasia


2014 Sightings | August 27

This morning on the Asteria we travelled out to the SW corner of Stellwagen. It was a bit breezy today, with gusts between 11-16 knots, so it was a little difficult to spot for blows at first because of all the extra white caps. Luckily, we were able to spot Nile and her calf!

Nile's calf raises a flipper high

We spent some exciting time with these two whales—it is lovely to see how much weight these two have put on this season because they both are looking rather plump. We were treated to a cool behavior just after approaching the whales, the calf was nursing! Later in the trip, the calf decided to be a bit playful at the surface and began rolling and slapping its pectoral flippers. Nile joined in a little too, mirroring her calf’s behavior! Passengers thought it was adorable!

Nile's flippers are very visible below the surface

After spending some time with this pair, we decided to travel further on to the bank where other blows were sighted. There were five humpback whales in this new area: two pairs and one lone humpback. We finished our trip watching Jabiru and Mogul, a different pair of adult humpbacks who were likely feeding together. It was a splash-tastic day out on the water!

— Annie G. and Grace


2014 Sightings | August 26

This morning on the Asteria we headed out to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales. We had great conditions out on the water and we saw a couple different blows around us as we approached the bank. We started our trip with a quick close look at a Minke whale just off our bow, but we decided to investigate a whale in the distance that was making quite a bit of splashing.


Once we got closer we ID’d this whale as Blackhole. Blackhole was taking 3 minute dives and was bubble cloud feeding as well. Blackhole is a familiar whale out on Stellwagen, we sighted her earlier in the season but is a new sighting in the area in the past week. We then noticed some blows in the distance and decided to get closer looks at this group.

Pele and Eruption

Just as we were approaching the area where these whale had gone down on a dive, 3 whales popped up right off our bow and were swimming towards us! Passengers got amazing close looks as these whales swam beneath our boat. We were able to ID these 3 as humpbacks named Pele, Eruption, and Storm.

Pele and Storm

This group was probably feeding well below the surface, and were consistently surfacing as a trio. We’ve been sighting this group pretty consistently over the past few days usually with Nile and her calf nearby which may have been a pair of whales about a half a mile away! These whales haven’t been moving all that much over the past few days which will hopefully continue to the future.


—Tegan, Kira and Lindsey


2014 Sightings | August 25

What a beautiful day it was on the bank! On board the Asteria for the 10am whale watch, we headed towards the southwest corner of the bank. Our trip started out with a surprise sighting of an ocean sunfish or Mola mola.

Mola mola, the largest bony fish in the sea

As we kept traveling toward the bank, we had another non-cetacean sighting. A little grey seal popped up at the surface, but quickly dove down.

Group of humpback whales swimming

When we arrived at the bank we found a large group of humpback whales. It was Nile, her 2014 calf, Pele, Eruption, and Storm! The group of 5 was fluking and taking short 3-4 minute dives.

Nile and her calf

The trio and Nile and her calf split once during the trip, but after 15 minutes or so they all joined together again for more feeding! The flat calm waters on the bank today made our sightings even better.

You can see the humpback's white flukes under the flat calm waters

— Hannah, Grace, and Jess


On today’s 12pm trip aboard the Aurora, we headed to the SW corner to find the group of 5 our 10am found – Eruption, Storm, Pele, Nile and her calf. At first the whales were separated, with Nile and her calf (see photo) traveling a short distance away from the trio – Pele, Storm, and Eruption.

Nile and her calf

At one point, all 5 whales joined up! This was a brief join before the group split up again, and Nile and her calf began to log while the trio were subsurface feeding. We saw lots of coordinated diving of this trio – including a synchronized dive of Storm and Eruption (see photo).

Synchronized dive by Eruption and Storm

What was interesting today  with the flat calm conditions we could see any disturbance in the water, and throughout the trip  we saw faint trails of bubbles while the whales were down on their dives – perhaps bubble feeding deep below the surface, or as our Captain Chip thought, maybe stirring up the gravel as they were bottom feeding along Stellwagen Bank.

The group crosses paths

On our last looks the trio passed by Nile and calf but did not join up again (see photo of the groups crossing paths), and we got wonderful close to boat looks of Storm (see photo of Storm’s fluke), Pele, and Eruption.

Storm's fluke

A wonderful day on the water!

— Laura


2014 Sightings | August 24

On our first trip of the day on the Cetacea, we headed to the SW corner to find 1 fin whale, and 6-7 humpbacks in the area. We first spotted Freckles and another humpback in the distance who quickly parted ways. Freckles was diving quickly and surfacing very shortly, so we spent time with another humpback in the area, Blackhole.


Blackhole did not fluke for us, but she is easily identifiable from her “Hershey kiss” shaped dorsal fin and scar on her flank (see photo).  She bobbed up at the surface a few times, perhaps just coming up from doing some subsurface feeding.

Comb jellies

For our final looks, we headed towards Nile and calf who were with some of our fellow whale watching boats – on the way we passed two more humpbacks in the distance, and also saw tons of comb jellies in the water! (see photo). We observed Nile’s calf nursing, and then headed home for our afternoon trip.

Storm's fluke

On our afternoon 1:30 trip, we headed back to the same area, this time finding Storm (see photo of fluke), Pele, and Eruption together. This trio was traveling slowly/logging (resting), and then began to pick up steam making coordinated turns and dives - characteristic of subsurface/deep feeding behavior (see photo).

Group photo

We also spotted a fourth humpback Pitcher in the distance, who came near but didn’t join up with the group.

A rainbow!

We wrapped up with some great looks in the calm seas – included some looks at a “rainbow” blow (see photo). It was so calm that we could see the trio of Pele, Storm, and Eruption on the radar (see photo).

Green blips are whales on the radar (don't miss the reflection!)

Another great day on the water!

— Laura


2014 Sightings | August 19

This morning aboard the Asteria, we headed down to the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank where there has been an abundance of activity over the past few days. As we could’ve expected, Mudskipper and her calf were in the mix along with Freckles.

Mudskipper and calf

Freckles spent most of her time making about 3 minute dives, likely subsurface feeding. Nearby, Mudskipper and her calf were making longer dives, about 7 minutes in length. Each time they surfaced a small bubble cloud also surfaced about 30 yards behind them, a definite sign of subsurface feeding. I was somewhat surprised to see Mudskipper’s calf accompanying her mom on each of these relatively long dives. Mudskipper’s calf is still feeding on her mother’s milk and most likely not actively feeding but I’m sure she’s learning a lot from her mom with each feeding dive. After 3 or 4 long dives, her calf decided to stay at the surface to catch a breath. I thought maybe the little one was hoping to rest after those dives but this calf had something else in mind!

Talk about front row seats!

Body surfing in the self-made wave

So close! The captains use special precautions when the whales approach the boat like this.

Out of nowhere, Mudskipper’s calf breached high up out of the water with an enormous splash! The calf then rode its own wave towards our boat and dove beneath us and again appeared with an incredible breach! I don’t know if I have ever seen a whale breach so near to the boat! It was absolutely incredible!

While watching the calf mill at the surface following the breaches, another unknown humpback in the area started heading our way and a couple fin whales swam by. We also watched some awesome bird activity throughout our exciting whale watch!

Lots of seabird activity

There were tons of different tern species, adult and juvenile. The terns were incredibly noisy throughout the entirety of our whale watch, competing for fish and, on a number of occasions, being harassed by some jaegers. One of the jaegers doing the majority of the harassment I believe to have been a juvenile parasitic jaeger. As usual, we saw a variety shearwaters including great, Sooty’s and Cory’s. Finally, there was a little tiny yellow song bird that seemed to have lost its way. It looked tired and maybe was looking for a place to rest but unfortunately it lost us when we cruised away as we moved on to Mudskipper and her calf. Hopefully this little bird finds its way to land!

— Tasia


Today on the noon whale watch on board the Aurora, we found ourselves just south of the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank near Provincetown. There we found two fin whales, three humpbacks, and between seven and nine minke whales!

Calm seas and great looks at whales

Large fin whale

We first spent time with a large fin whale that had a fresh injury near its dorsal fin. The calm sea conditions allowed us to have a breath-taking view of the entirety of this enormous animal, and we were able to watch its powerful tailstock propelling this beautiful animal as it travelled alongside the boat. We left this animal to check out the humpback whales in the area and were treated to some great surfacing from Mogul, a full grown male whale, who was doing some subsurface bubble feeding.

Minke whales traveling together

While watching Mogul we noticed some activity a ways off our bow and spotted four minke whales that were traveling and consistently surfacing together, this wasn’t the only sighting of associated minke whales today, we also spotted a pair of minke whales traveling together as well!

Mother and calf

In the time that we were watching Mogul, we were  joined by Mudskipper and her calf. This pair didn’t join with Mogul but they did stay near him which may mean that Mudskipper was feeding on the same prey as Mogul. The calf spent a lot of time right next to mom, taking long dives along with her. Early in the season the calves can’t hold their breath as long and usually stay at the surface while the adults take deeper and longer dives but these calves are growing and have to learn how to find and capture food because they will be out on  their own in just a few months. A few of our passengers also spotted a blue shark in today’s calm water. It was a great day on the water for sure.

— Tegan and Kirsten


2014 Sightings | Special video!

It's not every day that we get to share a video on the Whale Watch Log—especially something this beautiful! Here's a look at a recent whale watch adventure, shot during a trip on August 8.


The whales you see in this video are Cajun, Komodo and Samara. Thanks to DronePros.net and Boston Harbor Cruises for sharing this exciting perspective of these amazing wild animals.


2014 Sightings | August 14

On today’s 12pm whale watch aboard the Aurora, luckily the seas began to calm a bit down, and we were able to head to the SW corner of Stellwagen. We first got a great look at a large Ocean Sunfish (scientific name Mola mola)! (see photo). Ocean Sunfish are the heaviest boney fish species, easily weighing about 2000 pounds at times!

Abrasion, note the scarring on the tail stock

Fjord the finwhale and a petrel 

Abrasion and Rocker open mouthed

Abrasion's calf's fluke

Abrasion kick feeding

Mola mola!

We didn’t find much else on the corner, so we headed a little more north towards mid-bank, where we found some splashing in the distance, which turned out to be Anvil and her 2014 calf! This is our first sighting of the pair this season. Anvil did some great high kick feeding (see photo), where she then would follow up with a bubble net and then come up filtering at the surface. Anvil’s calf followed nearby, perhaps observing her kickfeeding technique. Her calf also fluked quite nicely for us (see photo).

We started seeing more blows and splashes in the distance, so we headed further on. We first found a fin whale who we ID’ed as Fjord – he is a male fin whale, more readily identifiable by the large nick in his dorsal fin (see photo).  You can definitely appreciate his size with the small petrel in the foreground!

Amongst the scattered blows, we came upon a group of two humpbacks, Rocker and Abrasion. Abrasion is a female who gets her name from the scar on her caudal peduncle/tail stock (see photo). Rocker is a male humpback, known often for his tail-kicking displays. These two were working together to feed, and we got a great look at both of their mouths WIDE open from a distance (see photo). These whales can easily open their mouths 90 degrees, which is apparent in the photo!

Our total sightings were 8-11 humpbacks, 2 fin whales, 5 minkes, and an ocean sunfish. We also had a ton of seabird life, including many shearwaters! It was great see so much life out there today – perhaps the storm stirred up some bait!

— Laura


This afternoon we had an amazing turn of events. Luckily the 12:00 whale watch had some new sightings just north of the southwest corner. We headed in that direction and were amazed with the amount of activity in the area! Throughout the trip we spotted about 10 humpbacks as well as 3-4 minke whales and 4 finbacks. It has been quite some time since we have seen this much activity on the bank and Kayleigh and I were so excited to have such a polar-opposite whale watch compared to our morning trip with no sightings!

Rocker close to boat

Once we started seeing activity, we were unsure where to start so we scanned the horizon to decide which whales were closest. Suddenly in the midst of us discussing our game plan in the wheelhouse, a bubble net formed right off of our port pulpit! Our decision was made for us!

Abrasion open-mouthed

We spent a lot of our trip with Rocker and Abrasion who were doing some awesome open-mouth feeding at the surface. Passengers got many great looks at the baleen that hangs from the whale’s upper jaw as well as the tubercles or stove bolts that are found on the whale’s face.

Open mouth with shearwaters flying

Later in the trip, we decided to check out some other whales in the area and we found Anvil and calf! We didn’t see much of these two, Anvil did not appear to be actively feeding. We spent the remainder of our awesome whale watch with Abrasion and Rocker once again. These two had no problem approaching the boat, giving passengers amazing looks the entire trip.  There were tons and tons of birds in the area today, including shearwaters, northern gannets, laughing gulls and more, gobbling up all the fish that were scared up to the surface by these massive whales! It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go out again this weekend!

— Annie G.


2014 Sightings | August 12

Today on the 10am whale watch we began by heading south towards the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Although visibility was at its best and we could see ten miles into the distance we didn’t find any whale in this area. However, the bird activity was simply phenomenal with sightings of various shearwater species and a few northern gannets with beautiful adult plumage.

Shuffleboard kick feeding

But since we were on a whale watch we decided to go find some whales. We travelled in a northerly direction and slowed to allow for maximum spotting opportunity. After only several minutes scanning the horizon, our eyes caught sight of a dark shape in the water. We finished playing our game of whale spotting with our humpback, Shuffleboard! Shuffleboard was showing signs of feeding by both blowing bubbles, surfacing and diving quickly, and making sharp turns.

After a few close to boat encounters including a brief bout of kick feeding, Shuffleboard began to travel deliberately south. We assume this means that Shuffleboard ingested all the food in the area and was searching for more. During this traveling dives, Shuffleboard stayed under the water for 5-7 minutes and would surface a significant distance from the boat. We kept up but eventually had to head home saying goodbye to Shuffleboard for the day.

— Tegan and Haylee


Today on board the Aurora we headed southeast of Boston in search of whales. Our lovely intern, Grace, spotted a few blows way out in the distance at our 3:00 position. We headed over there and found two scattered humpback whales!


Waterfall streams off a fluke

First, we spent some time with Shuffleboard who was taking beautiful fluking dives! We also noticed another whale about a quarter of a mile from Shuffleboard up at the surface a few times. This individual surprised us with an awesome full breach! We left Shuffleboard to investigate this new individual and it turned out to be Freckles!


Freckles took nice 4 minute dives and moved pretty quickly when she was up at the surface! A minke whale joined the party  at one point as well! After a while of watching Freckles, we noticed a pair of blows out a mile or two in the distance.

Finback whale

We headed over there to find a pair of massive finback whales making today a 3-species day! These two were associated and continually came back up to the surface together as they traveled east. It was a very productive day out on the water!

—Annie G.


Today was an absolutely beautiful day for whale watching with unlimited visibility! After cruising out to Stellwagen Bank this morning, we found Shuffleboard, a humpback whale bubble cloud feeding! While we couldn’t actually see Shuffleboard lunging for fish, the green cloud of bubbles that preceded each surfacing indicated what was going on beneath the water’s surface.


We also had a very special and rare treat on our morning whale watch! At one point while we were waiting for Shuffleboard to surface, passengers started pointing excitedly towards the water right below the starboard pulpit. As the subject made its way towards midship, I watched as a sea turtle dove about 8 feet below the surface and swam towards our stern. Unfortunately, the turtle was too deep for me to determine its species but the passengers and I were super excited at this unusual sight. It’s not unusual for sea turtles to be in these waters but they are only here in late summer and are quite small and difficult to see which make them a rarity on a whale watch. This was in fact the first sea turtle I have ever seen while out on a whale watch which made the trip extra special!


This afternoon on our 1:30 trip, the southwest corner was teeming with life. The first whale we saw was a female humpback named Freckles who came very close to the boat and gave us beautiful views of her fluke. While there were no obvious bubbles throughout our watching Freckles, she spent a lot of time underwater and was likely subsurface feeding. It seems like her source of food drew a number of different individuals into the area including a minke whale who swam about 100 yards off our bow and a couple fin whales that we spotted about a mile west of us.


As Tegan mentioned, mature Northern Gannets are starting to visit Stellwagen Bank again likely returning from nesting grounds in Quebec and Newfoundland. They are a beautiful and welcome addition to the variety of bird species we’ve been seeing out on the bank. We also saw a number of different shearwater species and a surprisingly large number of laughing gulls! Overall, we had a great day on the water!

— Tasia