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

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