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In the Great South Channel

Spy-hopping humpbacks, 7/17/17 in GSC

Monday, July 17, 2017:

Our 18th trip to the Great South Channel in the past 17 years was another amazing adventure. In fact, it was one of the best of all time.

FOG

Our  morning began with fog, humpbacks, and minke whales. We often heard whales but couldn't see them. Every once in a while, the fog would lift to 1/2 mile of visibility and we would find feeding humpbacks.  Bubble-ring open-mouth feeding on tremendous quantities of sand eels.  We could see the sand eels in the bubbles are they rose to the surface.

humpback eeding on sand eels in the GSC 7/17/17

CURIOUS APPROACH

The patchy fog continued for about 5 hours. As it began to lift, 2 humpback whales began an encounter that nobody on board could ever forget.  The two whales engaged in what is called a "curious approach." For one hour then swam up to the Viking Starship and watched us.  They swam on our side, next to each other, their heads facing the vessel and their long flippers out fully on the sides, almost touching.  They would remain on the side, logging, then dive under the vessel to come up on the other side and do the same thing.  Sometimes they woukld transit from the sides to the bow or stern, then back.  Sometimes each would swim parallel to the vessel and look at us (we could see that their eyes were open), they often would roll over to get a better look. That was the first 1/2 hour.

The next 1/2 hour was even more magical. Both whales, individually and in tandem spent the last half hour spy hopping almost within arms length of the Viking Starship. Not one of us, including those with 30 years of experience have ever seen this kind of prolonged "whales watching whale watcher" interactions.

Curious approach encounter 7/17/17

Take a look at the video below for a short version of these magical interactions

COOPERATIVE FEEDING GALORE

Once the fog lifted we could see whales in every direction. They were engaged in cooperative bubble-ring feeding. Amazingly, the group closest to us had 20 whales feeding together, and other groups were of similar size.  We estimated that there were about 80 whales within a 3/4 mile radius.  Unfortunately we could only spend time with two groups.

1/3 of a cooperative feeding group, GSC 7/17/17

HERE COME THE DOLPHINS

The feeding whales were joined by an aggregation of 100 offshore bottlenose dolphins. What a sight to behold, as the jumping dolphins joined in the feeding fray.

Offshore bottlenose dolphons, GSC, 7/17/17

After a few more hours, our time had run out and we needed to get going for the 12-13 hour trip back to Montauk. We were in awe.  Even though we saw a limited number of whales, the behaviors we witnessed werespectaular and won't be forgotten.

If you want to see more photos from that trip, please go to the link below.

Photos from the July 17, 2017 GSC trip

There's room so please join us on our next trip (August 13-15; 51 hours long) August GSC trip information and links


TOTALS FOR THE TRIP/strong>

33 humpback whales (27 identified and 16 unknowns)
10 minke whales
100 offshore bottlenose dolphins
500 Wilson's Storm Petrels
20 Leach's Storm Petrels
100 Cory’s Shearwaters
500 Great Shearwaters
25 Sooty Shearwaters
10 Manx Shearwaters
 
We have now had 1135 humpback encounters in our trips to the Great South Channel, Stellwagen Bank, and locally. With the assistance of Laura Howes of Boston Harbor Cruises, the Gulf of Maine Humpback group, the Center for Coastal Studies, Allied Whale, and the FlukeMatcher groups on Flickr and Facebook, we have photo-identified 430 different whales during these trips.

Click here to see a list of all humpbacks from CRESLI trips since 2002
Click here for a gallery of our identified humpbacks from 2002-2017

July 17, 2017

IDENTIFIED HUMPBACKS
Agent
Alphabet
Ampersand
Backcheck
Buzzard
Calderas
Chairlift
Crossbeam
Dice
Discus
Dory
Equals
Freckles
Giraffe
Gouge
Grackle
Jenga
Jumanji
Literal
Masquerade
Mayo
Meteorite
Orbit
Sanchal
Sweep
Thumper
Waterstrider
6 unknowns



For more information on humpback whales, click here.

For links to earlier sighting reports and photos from Great South Channel trips, click here.

 

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