Humpbacks, False Killer Whales, and even a Hammerhead!

Our weekend whale watching started out with “too many whales to count” on Friday’s Breakfast with the Whales Cruise. We spent about an hour with a pod of 3  – Mom, her calf and an escort. The calf was really active – lobbing his little tail over and over. We also had a couple of very close encounters with whales swimming just 10 feet away from the boat! On our 10:00 Whale Watch, we saw 30 whales! We had breaches close to the boat; we saw a spy hop, head lunges, tail lobs, pec slaps and double pec slaps – pretty much every behavior in the book! On the Whales and Cocktails Cruise. the highlight of the trip was either the competitive pod of 6 whales repetitively tail lobbing and peduncle throwing…or the VERY CLOSE BREACH. We couldn’t decide which was more exciting. On Saturday’s Breakfast with the Whales, we encountered a pod of two whales just outside of the Bay. They stayed with us for awhile, but then we saw a pod of 5, so we headed out to see them. They were really active on the surface, breaching and tail lobbing, and at one point all 5 of them crossed our bow just 20 feet away. On our 10:00 Whale Watch, we saw 25 whales, including a fairly active competitive pod of 3. The two males were clearly jockeying for position to get closer to the female…lots of trumpeting and bubble blowing from them. We also saw two breaches on the horizon, tail lobs and peduncle throws. But the highlight of this trip is when our naturalist Jonathan saw something white floating on the water. As we got closer we were able to determine it was a Hammerhead Shark! This shark was probably 8-10 feet long, (which is normal for that species) and it stayed with the boat for almost 20 minutes! On Sunday’s 10:00 Whale Watch we saw 7 whales including two pods of Mom/Baby without escorts. When we deployed the hydrophone, we heard faint singing. And to top off the day, on our Whales and Cocktails trip, not only did we see a lots of Humpbacks, but we also saw a pod of false killer whales (they look like kind of like  big – really big – dolphins, and though they’re shaped a lot like orcas, they don’t have the white markings). False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are not really that rare, although we don’t see them often in shallow water. They feed on large fish and squid, and average between 16-20 feet long.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: Friday’s pectoral and double pectoral slaps showed our guests the most distinctive physical characteristic of the Humpback Whale…Humpback Whales have the longest Pectoral Fins (arms) of any of the great whales. They’re so distinctive that the Latin Genus name (Megaptera) for the Humpback actually describes those fins…The Genus and Species names are “Megaptera Novaengliae” meaning“Big-Winged New Englander” and pronounced “MAY-ga-terra No-vee-ANG-li-ee.