Today appeared to be a day of tagged/previously tagged whales for our whale watches!
|Tongs with the tag|
Captain Chip and the Aurora crew, we headed near the western edge of the middle of Stellwagen along the shipping lane. When we arrived in crystal clear seas, we found three humpbacks resting at the surface, taking moderate dives. Our three humpbacks today were Nile, Timberline, and Tongs. As from our earlier report, Tongs is one of the Center for Coastal Studies’ current satellite tagged whale, as part of a study to look at the health impacts of longer-term tags (see photo of tag).
This research began in 2011, and Nile and Timberline were also previously tagged. You can actually observe where their tags were by the “dimple-like” scar on their flanks (see photo of Timberline).
|Sea lamprey on tail|
Today on my trip I also saw something I’ve never seen before on a whale – a sea lamprey! These blood-sucking parasites are occasionally seen on large whales here in the Gulf of Maine, and each time Nile fluked today we could see it dangling from her tail (see photos).
|Sea lamprey on Nile's tail...for now|
These are small eel-like parasites that bite on the whale and suck blood. A few folks asked me if this was harmful for Nile – it is a parasite, but as Nile is 40-ton whale, the lamprey is nothing to worry about and will probably be shaken off her tail in a few days.
Great day on the water!
— Laura Howes