We were mugged again on Monday! Two curious humpback whales for some reason chose to spend about 30 minutes right at, around and underneath our boat. They spent a lot of time directly next to our boat hovering within visibility, about 15 feet beneath the surface. This duo never surfaced together and were in fact never seen at the same time. They instead alternated surfacing for air, each time within feet of the boat.
Additionally, they had very similar dorsal fins and never gave us a clear view of their ventral flukes which gave us the impression that this was a single whale. It wasn’t until we were going through our photos in the office that we realized from some scarring that our singleton was actually a duo! We were unable to determine the identity of both whales but IDed one as Landslide!
As this duo escorted our drifting boat, we watched over a dozen whales within a couple miles of us and were eager to see what else was out there. We were able to sneak away when a third whale joined them and they finally distanced themselves from the boat. We spent the rest of our whale watch observing a group of four, Venom, Snare, Mural and Mostaza. These humpbacks were making about 6 minute dives, surfacing in random locations and spending little time at the surface between dives. Based on their behavior, we hypothesized that they may have been searching for food or subsurface feeding; however, we couldn’t say for certain what they were doing at depth.
It’s worthy of note that, unlike last week, we did not see Mostaza’s 2014 calf with mom. There were, however, nearby whales whom we were unable to capture ID images of which may have been this second year humpback. We will continue to keep a look out for this juvenile to determine if and when this separation between mom and calf, which is typically a year, has occurred or will occur.
We also had a couple of fin whales and a handful of minke whales in the area, but there were no signs of the dolphins we’ve been seeing. On our way to and from Stellwagen, we saw white-winged scoters, black scoters, lots of common loons, eiders, and various gull species. Finally, the northern gannets were out in full force today! We got to see some amazing diving behavior by these beautiful birds.
Naturalist and Photographer