Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finback Whale Fluking Out!

Finback whale exhaling at the surface.
 On July 2, we saw something that most people don't see in their lifetime. We saw a finback whale lift its tail or fluke out of the water. I know it may not sound that exciting, but if you knew how rare this behavior is, then you would understand.

Here is the sequence of photos I took of this behavior as we watched this pair.

I was the naturalist aboard the Tails of the Sea, a commercial whale watching vessel owned and operated by Capt. John Boats. As we watched a pair of finback whales off the south side of Stellwagen Bank, we were astonished to see that one of the whales lifted its flukes out of the water as it dove deep. When diving, a finback whale typically arches it back and sinks beneath the water's surface. This is called a non-fluke dive. It is very rare to see a finback lift its tail high above the water. Rare or not, this whale broke all the rules!

Here is a sequence of photos from this same sighting showing the more typical non-fluke dive.

We love whale watching and any type of wildlife view for you just never know what you will see offshore. I have been working offshore for over 34 years and I have only seen a few finbacks fluke out when diving. So this really was a treat and a very special event for all onboard.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NECWA President and Founder receives prestigious Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council.

 Krill Carson, President and Founder of NECWA 

receives the 2014 Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council.

 Our very own Krill Carson has received the prestigious Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. And the Town of Plymouth, under the direction of David Gould, received the 2014 Sustainable Communities Award.

Click HERE to read more about the award.

Krill with the inflatable model of Salt that she and the NECWA team made by hand.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Seabird and Whale Tales Excursion - Sunday, June 8th

Seabird and Whale Tales Excursion 

on Sunday

June 8, 2014 

8 am - 4 pm

Boarding time: 7:30 am

June 7, 2014 Update:
Trip is a resounding GO! Great weather for us tomorrow and lots of bait and marine wildlife offshore. Please be down at the dock by 7:30 am ready to board. Really excited about seeing you and spending some quality viewing time offshore.

Galley Food: reasonably priced

        Breakfast: donuts, muffins, bagels with our without cream cheese (regular and chive)
        Lunch: deli sandwiches (turkey, ham, roast beef), homemade chili, chowder and soups, frozen fruit bars, popcorn, chips, pretzels, apples, homemade rhubarb pie and apple pie
 and lots more

See you tomorrow! PS, Can you tell I love to eat! Best, Krill

June 4, 2014 Update:
The trip is a go. See you down at the docks by 7:30 am. We leave the dock at 8 am sharp. Looking forward to an exciting day out on the water.

Marine Forecast for the waters off Cape Cod can be accessed using this site: Marine Forecast

Best, Krill

The surface feeding frenzy is still going on offshore!

We have had amazing views of humpback whales feeding on the southern side of Stellwagen Bank. Here are some video clips from our June 2 trip aboard the Capt. John & Son II.

Great to see so many whales feeding together. Humpback whales are a medium-sized baleen whale that is listed as endangered due to the few animals that remain in our oceans. But when you have a lot of sand lance close to shore, many whales are attracted into that area and the sightings can be amazing.

A "once in a lifetime" for all of us onboard, even us old timers. We need to keep our oceans healthy with abundant bait fish stocks for whales, seals, sharks, seabirds and other marine wildlife. Climate change, ocean acidification, marine debris, pollution, overfishing, etc. are all putting pressures on this system. The basis truth is "no bait fish = no whale."

I would hate to live in a world with few whales! Become educated on the topics and then ACT. Today, it is not enough to simply CARE, we have to become involved on behalf of these deserving animals. Join NECWA in our efforts to make a difference.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. We hear that phrase all the time, but it is so important and these simply actions can make a huge difference. Try to use less gas and oil and rely more on natural energy sources like geothermal and solar. Demand less plastic in your life and be a choosy consumer by flexing your "purchasing" muscle. Tell "commerical America" what you want and don't want by choosing more environmentally sound products. Eat locally raised foods, cook whole meals instead of eating fast foods or processed foods. You will be healthier and the planet will be healthier as well.

Yes, these types of actions are often not convenient and take more time and effort, but isn't it worth it? I don't want to lose beautiful and amazing sights like the one we witnessed on June 2nd, but that is a possibility if we don't act and act now.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Whale Watching trip on May 6, 2014

We joined Capt. John Boats out of Plymouth for a whale watch today. This highlight of the show was a cluster of whales, seabirds and seals that were aggressively feeding off Peaked Hill Bar.

The star of the shows was a humpback whale named Amulet. Amulet was using her tail to stun the bait before lunging mouth open through water and bait fish. It was to see such activity. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wonderful, beautiful humpback calf.

Milkweed and her calf. 
On Sunday's whale watch aboard the Tails of the Sea, Captain John Boats, we had an amazing look at a very special calf. This was Milkweed's calf and this calf was very playful and curious.

Hancock and Milkweed surface feeding. 
Milkweed and Hancock were feeding together on baitfish. They were using bubble nets to help them concentrate the bait before lunging mouth open through the water and fish. Hancock was really putting on a show as she opened her mouth as wide as can be!

Hancock bubble net feeding.
Since the calf is getting its nutrition from mom, it was hanging close to mom's side watching and sticking to her like glue. Once the calf came over to our boat to look us over. What an amazing experience to be eye-to-eye with a baby humpback whale.

I see you!
As the calf swam next to mom's side, it was rolling over and on top of Milkweed. I don't know how mom was able to chase the baitfish with the calf being right on top of her!

Hancock's calf lobtailing with dolphins. 
As we started to head home, the calf got even more active by lobtailing and tail breaching, as if to say goodbye to us! These once in a lifetime experiences remind us how fragile the oceans are and how dependent their inhabitants are on a clean and healthy environment. If the health of the oceans declines, then the population of bait fish that the whales feed on will decline as well. No fish, no whales. It is as simple as that.

Milkweed's calf checking us out!
So help NECWA protect this little one and keep her from harm's way. Become a member of NECWA and go to our website at www.necwa.org to make a donation. Help us do the work we do on behalf of all marine wildlife. NECWA is a volunteer nonprofit so all donations go back into the work we do.

Hancock lunging through the bait fish. 
Milkweed's calf represents the future hope for humpback whales in our New England waters. What a character this baby is and what a joy she is to watch and admire.

Milkweed and her calf. 
To be honest, it is easy to see that Milkweed has her hands full with this exuberant child. But I can't wait to see her again!

Mom and calf. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

ATP Research Symposium at Bridgewater State University

ATP Research Symposium - April 28, 2014 at Moakley at Bridgewater State University. 

Dawilmer talking with another students about his research poster. 
Mani with her poster on dolphins and porpoises off Cape Cod. 
This past Monday, Biology students at Bridgewater State University presented their research at the annual ATP Research Symposium. Each poster presentation was a culmination of their activities conducted over the course of the semester under the guidance of Professor Krill Carson and Dr. John Jahoda.

Data used in these research projects was collected by NECWA staff and interns working on beaches as well as on boats offshore. NECWA also collaborates with a number of local businesses and organizations in southeaster MA, including Captain John Boats and Mass Audubon at Wellfleet Bay. Much of the data collected offshore is accomplished through NECWA's Internship Program established with Captain John Boats.

Christine and her poster on aging in ocean sunfish. 
Three different projects on marine wildlife were highlighted during this symposium. Christine Fallon was continuing her work on aging and growth in ocean sunfish. Dawilmer Castillo presented on cold-stunning in sea turtles in the New England area. And Manpreet Kaur investigated the occurrence and distribution of toothed whales (dolphins and porpoises) in the waters of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Christine talking with BSU students about her ocean sunfish research. 
Data collected on stranded ocean sunfish was obtained from NECWA's research and rescue project of ocean sunfish strandings on Cape Cod. The New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project (NEBShark) is a community-sighting network for both live and stranded ocean sunfish. Check it out at www.nebshark.org.

Dawilmer explaining his research on cold-stunned sea turtles. 
And information from Mass Audubon at Wellfleet Bay was used to provide an overview on cold-stunning in sea turtles. Cold-stunning is a hypothermic reaction experienced by sea turtles exposed to prolonged cold water temperatures. These individuals became trapped in the arm of Cape Cod as they migrate south. Unable to function, they strand live or dead on the shores of the Cape in the fall and early winter.
Mani who is studying toothed whales off Cape Cod. 
And data used to investigate the occurrence and distribution of toothed whales (dolphins and porpoises) in the waters of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary was collected by NECWA staff and interns aboard Capt. John Boats. Mani used this data to learn what species utilize these waters and during what seasons. Mani is also learning how to plot this sighting data using ArcView and Google Earth.

Mani with her poster on toothed whales. 
Seeing NECWA's data being used for education, research and conservation makes us feel good about the work we do on behalf of coastal marine wildlife in the New England area. And we love working with these young professionals who are passionate and enthusiastic about the animals that they study and the research they are involved with.

Dawilmer in action!
To learn more about NECWA go to our website at www.necwa.org and our sighting network at www.nebshark.org. And donate today if you want to help support our activities like this research symposium. NECWA is a volunteer nonprofit for all donations go directly to the projects that we oversee. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finback whales using bubbles when feeding.

Finback pair feeding off Race Point Beach.
On our whale watch yesterday aboard the Tails of the Sea, Captain John Boats, we found the same pair of finback whales that were feeding in this area on yesterday's trip. And this pair was continuing to feed in their very own style!
This finback's tail stock shows signs of a previous entanglement.

Surfacing just off the beach.
Both whales were coordinating their movements and they surfaced along the steep drop-off that is just off the shores of Race Point. And like yesterday, these animals were using bubble clouds to help them concentrate the bait before lunging mouth open beneath the waves.

Bubble clouds being produced by the finbacks as they feed. 
Bubble popping up to the surface. 
Finback on the left as it lunges through the bubbles.  
Finback whale don't often use bubbles when feeding, so this was a very pleasant surprise. These large and fast whale typically use their speed and agility to corral the bait into a tight ball before lunging.

Finback with birds associated. 

Always great to see a twist to whale behaviors and to see whale do behaviors that they are not known for. So we don't know everything and that is a good thing. Makes life more interesting.

Finbacks swimming in unison.