Log for September 20, 2015

We had a breachtastic whale watch aboard the Sanctuary on Sunday! After a couple brief humpback sightings on the western side of the bank, we hit the jackpot with Abrasion, her calf and Moonlight. 

Abrasion breach

Just as we were arriving, each of these three whales breached in sequence, the calf first, followed by mom, then Moonlight. Like many of the humpbacks in the area, these whales were exhibiting a range of percussive behaviors. 

Abrasion's calf's breach

The calf spent most of the time doing full breaches high up out of the water while Moonlight slapped her pectoral fins and mom chin slapped, breached and milled about. 

Abrasion and calf double breach

The trio’s activity eventually slowed down as they began traveling north.

Abrasion calf spyhop

We then moved on to Fulcrum, her calf and Ember as they appeared to slowly travel. We noticed, however, a handful of whales in the distance repeatedly breaching and eventually chose to move west towards Boston to breaching duo that turned out to be Jabiru and her calf! 

Jabiru's calf breaching

Both mom and calf breached over and over, mom transitioning in and out of flipper slapping. We were reluctant to leave the duo so Captain Dave let us stay for 3 full extra minutes which was just enough time to get another breach from both Jabiru and calf.

It was definitely a special day for everyone on board the Sanctuary!

— Tasia


Log for September 18, 2015

It was a beautiful day this afternoon on the Sanctuary with Captain James. We headed out to the SW corner in nice and calm sea conditions. As we approached the bank, we spotted a humpback whale! 


This juvenile whale stayed up for just a moment before ducking below the surface on a dive. We decided to continue forward and were excited to spot about nine whales scattered around the area. We spent time with a whale named Infinity who treated us to some beautiful looks at the underside of its unique tail with an infinity sight on the right side! This whale was possibly feeding sub-surface today. 

We noticed a variety of birds including many terns, shearwaters and gannets all feeding on fish at the surface! We also spent some time with a massive ocean sunfish between sightings of humpback whales. This Mola mola must have been in sunfish-heaven today because there were thousands of salps scattered at the surface for this funny fish to munch! 

We wrapped up our whale watch with two more humpbacks, Nile and Pitcher who were traveling with a third whale who split off before we could get a good look.

It was an absolutely gorgeous September afternoon!

— Annie


Log for September 7, 2015

Today on this summery day we headed out on the Cetacea with Captain Billy to Stellwagen Bank. We started our search close to where the Cetacea had left whales yesterday. We were soon able to spot a couple of spouts south of us and soon came across Twinkle and Komodo. These two whales were fluking and travelling around and were often joined by one of our unknown juveniles from this season. 

All three periodically came close to the boat and surprised us completely by surfacing with two completely different whales right off of our bow! Perhaps these two extra whales were the other pair in the area, Lutris and another unknown (this one with a T1/all white fluke) but we’re not sure! After spending most of our trip with these whales we made our way to another whale in the area who started to breach! 

We got a couple of looks at this whale before it took a dive and left us. On our way back in we were able to catch a glimpse of Air Force One stationed at Logan Airport while President Obama was in Boston!

On our 1pm trip we were joined by Annie G and again headed out to the bank. As we approached the Asteria was just finishing up their trip with Music, a familiar whale from this season. Music was flipper slapping and spent a couple of minutes doing so before becoming less active and hanging at the surface. Annie G had spotted another couple of spouts in the area so we decided to see what would happen if we made our way over there. At one point, we our unknown juvenile from earlier breaching off the starboard side and Komodo and our unknown T1 on the port side! The unknown juvenile continued to breach and flipper slap for the rest of trip which, of course, was exciting for passengers but also exciting for us! It was soon time for us to leave the bank but it was a great trip!

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend!

—Annie W and Annie G


Log for September 3, 2015

Today was a stunning day of whale watching. We headed out on the Sanctuary into flat calm seas and Captain Adam took us all the way to the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank. Initially we spotted a single flipper slapping humpback whale who turned out to be Perseid, a common visitor to the area. 

We moved on when Perseid started to take long dives and found a pair of “lazy whales”. Just two humpback whales lazily swimming at the surface. It took a little while to identify these whales but I finally got enough pictures to identify Brine (a new sighting for me!) and Glo-Stick. 

We continued on where we found Rapier’s 09 calf also doing some lazy diving. This whale has a very distinct scar to its tail stock which aides in identification. Circling back on our original trackline put us in the perfect position to watch two fantastic groups: a pair of Venom and Mostaza, and a trio of Hancock and calf, and A-Plus. All together we got some awesome looks at these last two groups and spotted around 11 humpback whales and a 2-3 minke whales.

We headed to the same area in the afternoon and though we initially spotted a small group of humpback whales being watched by one of the Gloucester whale watches we decided to head a little farther south. We spotted a ton of small minke whales and also a huge number of sea birds and then we saw an ENORMOUS splash in the distance! Heading over (nearly the same spot at the earlier trip) we found the mother-load of humpback whales. 

To begin with there were several small groups of two or three individuals but one animal was breaching on every surfacing. This turned out to be Venom and she was the star of the show with breaches right next to the boat. 

I managed to capture just one though I was too slow with my camera for the most beautiful breach at the end of the trip. Venom remained with Mostaza for most of the trip but was also joined at different times by Jabiru and her calf and Owl and her calf. Many other groups of humpbacks seemed to be appearing out of the woodwork at all times and I think there must have been around 20 whales in this small area. It was another spectacular day of whale watching on Stellwagen Bank.

— Tegan


Log for September 1, 2015

Today on the Asteria we had a great day offshore!


We arrived near the SW corner of Stellwagen today, first finding two unknown humpbacks (one of which is an unknown of ours of the season). At first this pair was breaching and flipper slapping in the distance, but then the pair began to slow down and rest, and parted ways.

Bubble feeding

Captain Joe decided to head further to SE, and we ended up finding a scattered frenzy of humpbacks and minke whales. We decided to watch a whale that turned out to be Convict – and this whale gave us quite a show! Convict exhibited some excellent displays of kickfeeding, following by some bubble net blasts (see photo). 

It was interesting to see Convict’s unique feeding techniques - this whale would swim upside down right under the water, which we could clearly observe with the sea conditions today. We also spotted a large school of sandlance next to our boat – probably trying to escape from Convict! Another fabulous day on the water.

I also wanted to give a shout out to one of our crew members Peter doCouto who is leaving us for the Coast Guard this month. We will all miss him here at BHC! 

Like the whales, many of our crew and staff migrate in the fall from our boats to head back to school and new ventures. They definitely deserve a thank you for all their hard work!

— Laura