Saturday, April 12, 2014

First Whale Watch of the Season with Capt. John Boats

NECWA staff members Tammy and Krill had a great first trip offshore with Capt. John Boats out of Plymouth.

Trip Sightings:
  • 3 right whales
  • 2 humpback whales (Tongs and calf)
  • 50 to 60 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
  • 5 - 6 minke whales
  • 4 harbor porpoise
  • 1 gray seal
  • 13 harbor seals
Atlantic-white sided dolphins

As we headed out of Plymouth Harbor, we spotted a North Atlantic right whale skim feeding a few miles offshore. As we slowly moved away from this animal and continued northeast, we spotted an additional 2 right whales all feeding separately. Right whales are the most endangered species of baleen whales in our waters so these were sightings of a lifetime for all onboard. 

Our next sighting was a large group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. These animals were feeding in small groups, but some came right over to our boat to ride the bow wave and the stern wake as we slowly moved through the area.

Tongs and her new calf. Mom is on the right.
As we continued offshore we saw at least 4 to 5 minke whales and a small handful of harbor porpoise. We also had distant looks at 1 harbor seal and 1 gray seal. But the best sighting of the day was a humpback mother and calf that were slowly moving east.

Tongs on the left and her new calf on the right.
As we slowly approached this pair, we were delighted to see that this was Tongs, a female humpback whale who has been seen in our area since 1989. This is the 5th calf that Tongs has brought back to our northern feeding waters.

Tongs lifting her tail (fluke) out of the water, 
Tongs and her calf didn't seem bothered by our presence and continued to slowly move to the east. It was such a joy to see this young calf who is less than 6 months old. This baby whale was born this previous winter in the warm waters of the Caribbean. The calf will stick tight to Tongs for a year before heading off on its own.

Tongs breathing at the surface with the calf to her side.  
Tongs fluking out with her calf to the left. 

As we headed home, we realized what a special trip we had. Endangered right whales and humpback whales that included a mother with her new calf of this year. 

As we retuned into Plymouth Harbor, we noticed harbor seals resting on the rocks close to the Duxbury Pier Lighthouse. Our captain was very kind to spend a few minutes watching these sleepy critters. 

A successful first trip of our 2014 season. Hope you can join Capt. John Boats sometime this season.