|Sei whales skim with the Boston skyline in the distance|
This was my very first time seeing sei whales, so it was an especially exciting trip for me! Sei whales are large, 40-60 foot baleen whales that rarely, but occasionally visit the inner waters of Massachusetts Bay.
|Look at that baleen!|
|Synchronized skim feeding|
|Calanus copepod, sei whale food|
|Open mouth, coming our way|
Skim feeding is a very tranquil and beautiful behavior to watch and something, in four years of coming out to Stellwagen Bank, I have never been able to experience. This slow and graceful feeding gave guests the opportunity to observe, in slow motion, the function of ventral pleats and baleen. As these sei whales fed, they filtered seawater on their sides allowing guests to watch their ventral pleats stretch, their throats expanding as they slowly filled with seawater (see photos). We then observed this water flow through their baleen as they filtered their food out of the water.
|Baleen and ventral pleats on full display|
We watched these whales feeding in awe the entire trip and enjoyed listening to them breathe against the silence of a calm sea. I felt very lucky to have been on our whale watch yesterday and I know our guests did as well! It was an experience I know I will never forget!
|Flat calm and peaceful skim feeding|
I promised I would provide an update regarding an entangled whale we heard about over the VHF radio on Sunday. Fortunately, the humpback whale was successfully disentangled by the Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team. However, with deep wounds and being underweight, it is likely still suffering from the effects of the entanglement.
— Tasia Blough