Today the whale gods smiled on us even if the weather gods did not! The Salacia headed out for the 10am whale watch into heavy fog. Captain Adam decided to head towards the middle of the bank and do the old fog whale watching trick – stick your head out the window and see if you hear any whales, in less than half a mile of visibility this seemed like the easiest way of finding whales. No sooner had we slowed down and started our foggy search that we noticed a passenger pointing at something out in the fog. It was a whale!
This one miraculous whale turned into multiple whales kick feeding, bubble cloud forming, and lunging open mouthed out of the water. We spent the majority of our trip with a well-known female named Rapier. Rapier is a very energetic kick feeder and we got awesome looks at every part of her feeding process. There was a second whale with Rapier that wasn’t as interested in the feeding. It would surface in the bubble clouds every so often and seemed to be feeding but was mainly just hanging around and occasionally came close as though to give us a curious once over.
I saw Rapier with her calf last year and though this individual was displaying calf-like behavior I doubted that Rapier would have such a large calf just one year after her last. It was quite a surprise when I did get a fluke photo to identify this whale as Rapier’s 2015 calf! Most mothers and calves separate after a single year and by this time the juveniles would be completely independent from their mothers so I can’t really say what’s happening here. It was definitely a first for me! I was additionally able to identify two other humpbacks: Xylem and Ventisca.
On the 2pm whale watch we headed back to the middle of Stellwagen Bank where subsequent whale watch boats were marking the location of the whales, visible on our radar if not actually visible to the eye. The fog was still close around with less than half a mile of visibility but we were able to find an area of 7-10 humpback whales. The whales were travelling rapidly through the area which combined with the fog made them extremely difficult to track. None the less we were able to spot a number of bubble rings and lunge feeding, particularly from two groups of 4 animals which made for some exciting sightings. The whales weren’t inclined to fluke as much this afternoon so we’ve come away with just a few identifications including Xylem, Viking and Pleats. For a foggy day that showed no sign of letting up that ability to spot these animals in such poor conditions made for an exciting and satisfying day of whale watching.