Log for June 20, 2015

We spent both the 11 am whale watch and the 3 pm whale watch with two very special whales today Spoon and her calf. In the morning we found the pair to the west of the bank surrounded by some smaller vessels. 

The calf definitely seemed to be directing its behaviors towards one of these boats with a lot of rolling, tail slashing and tail lobbing near it while Spoon spent a lot of time just below the surface a distance away. The pair would taking fluking dives ever once in a while and seemed to be travelling towards the south with every dive. Towards the end of our trip we had two fantastic passes by both Spoon and the calf.

Spoon surfaced near our boat and swam just below the surface along our side and I guess the calf decided to finally come back to mom because it also surface right near us and did a few rolls at the surface for us. The visibility into the water was great today and we got awesome looks at those glowing green pectoral fins showing us where Spoon and calf were in the water. Just as we left we spotted behavior from the calf which definitely looked like it was nursing! Always fun to see!

In the afternoon we headed out towards the southwest corner were all the action had moved. Initially we didn’t spot anything and were debating heading farther east to where the Aurora was when we spotted a huge splash – a breach! We went to investigate and spotted Spoon and calf again. The calf was very active with tail breaches and tail lobs and flipper slaps. Even mom got in on the action this time and gave a few flipper slaps. Seeing a full grown humpback’s pectoral fin, especially one as big as Spoon, is always a treat! Things quieted down for this pair and they kept up their fluking dives and logging. I also spotted my first Wilson’s storm petrel of the season today and my first Cory’s shearwater two of my favorite pelagic sea birds!

— Tegan


Captain Earl took us out to the southern half of Stellwagen Bank in search of whales. There we were in the company of a few other boats as we came across a pair that we have been seeing several times over the past several days: Spoon and her 2015 calf! 

At first they were doing 4-5 minute dives and not spending too much time at the surface. Then, after we had been observing them for about 20 minutes, the calf became very curious about us and came right up on our port side for a good long look at our boat and passengers!  This little precocious guy was so close that up on our researcher platform on the third deck we had a hard time seeing it, but our passengers sure did get fantastic looks! At one point, it became a bit difficult to tell who was watching whom.

The calf rolled and showed us its ventral pleats, flippers, and belly button while Spoon rested nearby.  She seemed very relaxed (or perhaps a bit worn out taking care of such a vibrant calf) while the calf investigated us and the other boats in the area up close.

In the afternoon, we returned in search of Spoon and calf and perhaps some other individuals down off the cape. As we got into the area, we quickly resighted the mother and calf, but also had a third individual pop up not too far from them! This might have been one of the yearlings we have been seeing consistently over the past couple of weeks. This third individual did not join Spoon and calf, but continued to remain in the area and even began to do some intermittent surface activity in the distance.  At one point, Spoon and her curious calf came right up next to us!  The calf investigated our boat once again, and then all of a sudden Spoon herself gave a tremendous tail breach!

It is possible that she may have been responding to that other surface active humpback in the distance.  Since sound travels 6 times faster in water than it does in air, whales are able to communicate primarily via sound and across long distances. We have often observed when one whale begins surface activity, others in the area might respond as well. Her calf continued to ham it up a bit until we moved off in search of a few other individuals in the area.  We drove a bit down the back side of the cape and saw a few other blows spread out in the distance and were able to get a few quick looks of another humpback with a very distinctive dorsal fin.  Unfortunately every time this whale fluked, it was at the wrong angle for an ID – however with such a unique dorsal fin, we should be able to find out who it was eventually.  We also were briefly investigated by a very curious gray seal that did a circle around us!

— Heidi (with interns Jess and Megan)


Today on board the Asteria with Captain Deb we headed to the Southwest corner with a full boat. We barely had time to spot for whales when we saw spouts and some splashing close to a small recreational boat in the area. 

As we got close to these whales we saw a bit of a fluke-it looked like the whale was on its side-and as we got even closer this whale breached! This pair of whales turned out to be Spoon and her 2015 calf. 

While Spoon spent most of her time at the surface travelling or just below the surface, her calf was extremely active. This little one split its time between lots of flipper slapping, rolling, spyhopping, and fluking. 

In addition, by the end of the trip he/she had tail breached and lobtailed multiple times. Spoon and calf were pretty much travelling towards Provincetown on the surface during the entire trip, however, at the end each took a dive, showing their fluke, and were under for at least 5 minutes. This was completely out of the pattern of what they had been doing and we were about to head back home when both surfaced directly off of the starboard side surprising everyone! They spent another couple of minutes at the surface before taking another beautiful dive that ended up being our last look.

It was an absolutely beautiful day with some great whales!

— Annie W and Maddy

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