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

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