We had another amazing trip to the northwest corner today with an enormous amount of diversity! To start off, we sighted at least seven different minke whales and four gray seals! While we don’t usually stop to watch seals, these smaller marine mammals were extra interactive today! The first gray seal we saw was swimming with a fresh catch!
Take a look at this little guy carrying a giant codfish in its mouth! After chowing down on this ground-fish which he most likely swam to a depth of about 300 feet to catch, he joined a seal friend who had been watching us from the other side of the boat. While seals often haul out together on land, it’s rare to see two swimming together in the open ocean because they are typically solitary foragers. These curious ocean-puppies seemed as interested in us as we were in them (see photo)!
We then came across a group of seven to eight humpbacks. These “winged New Englanders” repeatedly approached the boat closely giving passengers beautiful views of their enormous pectoral flippers. The heightened clarity of the water today allowed us to see deep into the water column giving us full body views of these whales (see photo of Mend).
While they were making frequent dives, they also spent long periods of time at the surface. This group included a whale named “747”, Egret, Mend, Perseid and Zeppelin. We also saw one of Tegan’s unknown from yesterday who we are still hoping to ID in the coming days.
A number of fin whales also swam through the area including a duo who appeared to be circling, a behavior indicative of feeding. We saw hundreds of dolphins today which were again scattered across the northwest corner interacting with many of the baleen whales in the area. Guests enjoyed watching the acrobatic, bow-riding dolphins right next to boat just about the entire whale watch!
We had some awesome bird sightings today as well! Common loons, eider ducks, various species of scoters and gulls and northern gannets all made a strong showing. We additionally saw a few large groups of razorbills and a couple thick-billed murres! These two species are part of a larger group of birds, known as alcids, which include puffins and auks. These alcids are a fan favorite for bird watchers!
What a great time for whale and bird watchers alike to come out on a ride to Stellwagen Bank!
naturalist and photographer