2014 Sightings | August 5

This morning on the 9am whale watch onboard the Cetacea our captain decided to mix things up a little and we headed more towards the south rather than to our usual spot on the northwest corner.

Dyad swims among fishing gear

A bird is dwarfed next to Dyad's fluke

We reached the western edge of the bank and found a female humpback whale named Dyad taking short dives. Dyad was doing an interesting diving behavior where she would take a long dive, surface once, fluke and then come up a few seconds later, spending a little while at the surface. Hopefully she was finding a lot of food on those long dives. Female whales must store huge amounts of fat to cope with the energetic strain of pregnancy and nursing. Dyad, like any of the females we see this summer, could be preparing to breed or give birth on the wintering grounds in the coming months. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Tongs and calf

Nearby to Dyad we spotted two whales, likely a mother and calf, logging or resting at the surface. We managed to get a quick look at the end of the trip and identified Tongs and her 2014 calf. Tongs and calf were actually some of the very first whales that I saw this season back in April and that calf has grown! We also got an awesome look at a Mola mola or ocean sunfish, the largest boney fish species, on the way home due to the perfect flat water conditions.

Mola mola!

This afternoon on the 1:30 whale watch we headed out to the western edge of the bank and found Tongs and her calf. We had seen these two whales resting in the same area earlier in the day but it looked like rest time was coming to an end. Tongs would take longish dives but also hang just under the water only visible by her pectoral fins glowing green through our phytoplankton laden water.

Tong's calf rolling

The calf was definitely feeling playful and we got a lot of tail slashes and bubble blowing. Our favorite was when the calf did a lot of rolling, especially when it spent some time swimming upside down with it’s belly exposed. This position allows us to get photographs which can help to identify sex. Otherwise we’d have to wait a few years and see if this whale turns up with a baby. It was a beautiful day and the flat water conditions made it a wonderful day for whale watching.

— Tegan


Today on board the Asteria we headed out to the middle of Stellwagen Bank where we had many unique sightings. On our search for whales we spotted a loggerhead turtle! I had never seen a turtle on a whale watch so it was really exciting when we spotted this individual.

Blue shark!!

After this quick look, we spent some time with a lone female humpback named Dyad. Dyad was taking short 3 minute dives. While watching this whale, we had a surprise sighting of an awesome blue shark. It swam right alongside our starboard sight!

Tongs and her newest calf

After a while, we decided to move to a different area where other whales had been sighted earlier in the day. On our way to this new area, we spotted a giant mola mola or ocean sunfish! We finished up our trip with Tongs and her 2014 calf travelling very slowly at the surface. The calf stayed at the surface the entire time we watched this pair, while the mother took short, non-fluking dives every few minutes. It was a beautiful, flat-calm day with so many different species!!!

— Annie G.


Large finback, twice the length of a humpback!

On the 12pm whale watch aboard the Aurora today, Captain Jeff headed straight to the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. When we first arrived – we found two different species! A large fin whale, and two familiar humpbacks – Northstar and Hippocampus. Though the fin whale was far, we could really see the difference in size- the fin whale is about twice the length of the humpback whales.

We spent our trip with Northstar and Hippocampus, who were traveling slowly at first. Then after a few surfacings, Hippocampus did a flipper flare underwater, Northstar trumpeted (i.e. made a loud-pitched exhalation), and then Hippocampus suddenly dove very deep.

Hippocampus and Northstar

This seemed to begin to prompt some different behaviors, because shortly after Hippocampus began flipper slapping at the surface! We watch this whale slap several times at the surface, and Northstar at one point rolled on his side and exposed one of his flippers (but didn’t slap – you can see it in the photo).

Hippocampus comes in close for a close-up

After that the pair began some subsurface feed, and near the end of the trip we began to see small ripples of bubbles popping up at the surface while the whales remained below. It was exciting to slowly see the anticipation building as a faint bubble net appeared near our boat, and then suddenly the two surfaced right next to us!

Northstar fluke

It wasn’t clear as to whether the whales were curious to the boat/our jet wash, or just happening to feed under our boat – but either way it was a great way to end our trip! Capt. Jeff even squeezed in a little more time for a few extra last looks of this exciting behavior.

Another great day on the water!

— Laura

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