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.

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