Whale Watch Log: June 25, 2016

Our day with Captain Earl and the crew of the Aurora began with two whales splashing and rolling around- we watched as one chin breached repeatedly as we approached, and soon other whales in the area replied with splashy behaviors of their own. Before long, we were surrounded by whales engaging in all types of behavior. We spent a bit of time with Glo and her calf. Glo, unfortunately, is missing much of the left fluke. Without a report of the incident this whale encountered, we can’t be sure what happened, but she likely had an entanglement or a ship strike. This resilient whale has seemed to heal well, and having a calf is always a sign of good health.

Great look at baleen, note the section of broken baleen

Before long, the activity really ramped up, and we had kick feeding taking place in all directions, near and far. A favorite of mine,   Etch-a-Sketch and her calf were with us for a bit of time, as well as Scratch, Habenero, Lichen, and a few other unknowns. There were a few chin breaches, but one absolutely enormous breach from a whale. A complete hallmark humpback behavior and a sight I can still picture in my mind.

Chin breach by Abrasion
Chin breach
We returned to the dock and got right back out for the afternoon- from looking at the movements these whales have been making, it seems as though they are beginning to make their way south again, as today they were feasting on the sand eels of midbank. This afternoon left me completely stunned. Sometimes we get lucky enough to have a whale surface yards from the boat, or get curious, or kick feed super close- at one point we had all three happening at once! I checked back and passengers were literally standing in the middle of the third deck not knowing which direction to look.

Big splash by Abrasion
The star of the day during both trips was Abrasion. Her method of kick feeding also incorporates a chin breach. She would launch herself out of the water, then as she submerged would smash her tail downward, making a splash that nearly engulfed her entire body (see series). I couldn’t get enough of her. We also had a few calves who became playful and curious while mom ate lunch. A few of the other whales we have identified so far include JT, Ganesh and her calf, Hancock, and Level. Today was absolutely unreal, and the passengers I talked to seemed to really appreciate the rarity and luck of today’s sightings!

Sand lance flee from a humpback's open mouth

— Laura

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