Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island

Latest Trips

Scroll down this page to see all whale watch, seal walk, and seal cruise reports from 2019 onward

By: A. H. Kopelman, Ph.D.


Latest Trips

LATEST CUPSOGUE SEAL SIGHTINGS REPORTS

LATEST SEAL CRUISE REPORTS

LATEST WHALE WATCH REPORTS (through 2019)

Whale Watch Reports as far back as 2013 are available here


CRESLI 2023 Whale Watch Naturalist Blog

Here's a link and slideshow for our BEST of the 2023 Whale Watch Season

Sunday July 2, 2023

2 species of dolphins and tons of pelagic birds! years

The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 28th consecutive season of whale watching trips on a windy and bouncy day. We had reports of whales and dolphins in the area. Shortly after passing Montauk Light we found our first group of about 60 bottlenose dolphins and stayed with them for a while. We headed further east to look for whales, then south, then west, then north. We found a small group of short-beaked common dolphins that briefly rode our bow wake. Eventually we found another 60 bottlenose traveling at incredible speed past us heading to where we’d soon tons of bait at the thermocline. Hundreds of shearwaters and storm petrels close to Montauk. What a way to start!!

  • 120 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 10 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 82 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 490 Great shearwaters
  • 2 Manx shearwaters
  • 2 Sooty shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Long trip - but we found our 1st baleen whale!

Our second whale watch of the 2023 season is in the books! Before leaving the dock, passengers were treated to sightings of two gray seals feeding in the harbor. Once departed, we swapped out the heat of land in exchange for cool, offshore breezes as we searched for more marine mammals. Our first encounter was with several small groups of inshore bottlenose dolphins, including a few mother/calf pairs. We watched as the dolphins fed, chasing their prey in circular patterns and at one point, nearly surrounding our vessel. After spending time with them, we went off in search of larger cetaceans, stopping a few times along the way to observe additional small groups of bottlenose dolphins. While encountering another mom/calf dolphin pair, a blow was spotted far off in the distance. We traveled toward the area, coming upon a juvenile humpback whale which was searching for and/or feeding on bait detected along the bottom. After enjoying a few surface intervals and dives, it was time to return to port, accompanied by numerous shearwaters and an additional dolphin sighting along the way. We got back late, but nobody complained!
We're just getting started! We sail every Sunday and Wednesday this summer. Book your trip with us today.

  • 2 gray seals
  • 80-100 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 humpback whale
  • ~80 Cory's shearwaters
  • 4 Manx shearwaters
  • ~170 Great shearwaters
  • 2 possible Sooty shearwaters
  • 15 Wilson storm petrels

 

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Fourth cetacean species in only three trips!

Today’s whale watch was an exercise in patience. Reports of bottlenose dolphins brought us southwest in search of these dynamic cetaceans. Despite abundant prey just below the surface for much of our transit, no dolphins were found. We passed through numerous patches of sargassum, hoping to spot a turtle or two, but no turtles were found. Occasional sightings of Great shearwaters entertained us while searching for life at the surface. We headed into deeper water, keeping dry from the soaking rains pounding the mainland. At last, a blow and fin were spotted and investigated, revealing a fin whale, our fourth cetacean species in only our third trip of the season! The fin whale appeared to be feeding, spending short intervals underwater and surfacing around our vessel. While watching this whale, a second whale appeared, presumably a second, smaller fin whale, although only brief glimpses were granted. Unfortunately, already running late, we needed to transit back to the dock and leave these two behind. Passengers were happy to have spent time with the whales, a first experience for many on board! Every trip is different and we never know what we will see (or when) and this trip was a perfect example of that.

We sail every Sunday and Wednesday through early September. Book your trip with us today!

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

  • 2 Fin whales
  • 140-180 Great shearwaters
  • 1 Cory’s shearwater
  • 2 Sooty shearwaters
  • 5-8 Wilson storm petrels

Wednesday, July 19, 2023 

Expectations Exceeded!

After Wednesday’s incredible encounters and a weather-cancelled trip on Sunday, we headed offshore with high hopes that the whales observed last week would still be around for today’s cruise. That plan was quickly interrupted by two humpbacks appearing halfway into our transit, feeding and moving closely in association with one another. Upon further observation, we were thrilled to find a familiar whale within the pair: Hasselback! Hasselback is a whale that we first encountered as a calf (to Scylla) in 2016 in the Great South Channel. In 2018, the then-unnamed humpback was observed off Montauk again before appearing in 2021 with horrific propeller-blade scarring from a boat strike. Despite his injury, Hasselback was sighted again in 2022 feeding and doing well. A few weeks ago, CRESLI had the distinct honor of announcing his Gulf of Maine Humpback Catalogue name (maintained by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies) to the public. As we spent time with the duo, several pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins appeared, also feeding on the abundant prey beneath the surface. A third humpback was spotted and, after everyone onboard got excellent views of the dolphins, we eventually sailed off into deeper water. There, we encountered three more humpbacks, including a mother and calf pair, our first of the season! Traveling onward a bit more, we encountered six more humpbacks, all cooperatively feeding and straining the prey through their baleen at the surface. We spent some time with them before heading home, thrilled from being immersed in cetaceans throughout the cruise.

  • 3 Atlantic gray seals
  • 200 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 14 humpback whales (including a cow/calf pair)
  • 45 Great shearwaters
  • 20 Cory's shearwaters
  • 2 Manx shearwaters
  • 5 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 1 Parasitic jaeger

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Dolphins, humpback whale, sharks, and more!

Sunday’s trip began with a bang! A gray seal rolled acrobatically in the water alongside our vessel as we sailed out of port. Then, only five minutes from the lighthouse, a breach was spotted by one of our sharp-eyed volunteers. We quickly turned course to find a juvenile humpback whale repeatedly breaching and pec-slapping (slapping its long, pectoral flippers on the surface of the water). We enjoyed views of the young whale, which began taking shallow (non-fluking) dives before diving deep enough to expose its tail flukes out of the water, an important tool used to identify the individual. From there, we moved offshore in search of the larger individuals encountered on our last trip. Unfortunately, the whales had moved on from that spot so we continued searching, stumbling upon two sharks (of unknown species), and eventually spotting a small pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins. Some of the dolphins were leaping out of the water and appeared to be feeding, spending time under the water in a tight group. We steamed home, enjoying beautiful views of the cliffs, diving terns and warm, summer breezes.

Our trips remain 100% successful in finding cetaceans this season. Join us on our next trip!

  • 1 Atlantic gray seal
  • 1 humpback whale
  • 16-20 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 40-50 Great shearwaters
  • 8-10 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 2 sharks (species unknown)

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

An epic trip unlike any in a decade!

We headed out to sea to escape the heat. We had reports of dolphins and whales and headed SE and soon found a group of 50-60 inshore bottlenose dolphins, chasing their prey over an area of about 1 square nautical mile. After the dolphins we headed south to no avail.  We then traveled east, then north and on our way we saw blows! We never gave up and we found 5 fin whales actively feeding! They were circle feeding, taking 3-5 minute dives to feed on the dense bait we were seen at the surface (to 20 feet) and on the bottom (100 feet). There appeared to be a mom/calf pair in this group of 5.  The adults were easily 60-70' long and probably weighed 120-140,000 lbs.

We have not seen 5 fin whales swimming together and feeding this actively in a decade. We got back the dock late, but nobody complained!

  • 50-60 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 5 fin whales (finback whales)
  • 127 Great shearwaters
  • 7 Cory's shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Just gets better and better! 300-400 Bottlenose dolphins and 5 humpback whales

On a comfortable day, with unlimited visibility, we were ready to find lots of cetaceans , and that we did. We had reports of dolphins “everywhere,” and whales where we’d seen them on our last, as well as closer to shore. Are assumption that the nearshore whales were juvenile humpbacks was correct. These juvenile humpback whales and dolphins were searching for and feeding on the abundant patches of Atlantic menhaden (AKA bunker). We watched as the whales fed via subsurface lunges. These were small humpbacks, probably no larger than 24 feet. Our first 4 humpbacks undertook no “surface” activity, but our 5th humpback was repeatedly flipper-slapping and surfacing lunging,.  Beautiful to watch.  We’re already looking forward to Wednesday’s trip!!  Join us.

A reminder to all – you will need cash to purchase food and drinks onboard, and to enter the 50/50 raffle, should you wish.

  • 300-400 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 5 humpback whales
  • 200 Great shearwaters
  • 10 Cory’s shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work.

Here's an a link to install this trip's photos as an App on your phonee

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Our streak continues!

With temperatures in the 70’s, calm seas, and absolutely unlimited visibility, we could not have asked for better conditions to search for cetaceans on our ninth trip of the season. Reports of whales brought us west of Block Island where spouts were immediately spotted. The first belonged to two humpback whales, surfacing, swimming, and diving in near unison as they fed on the abundant bait throughout the water column. Very soon after, a large fin (finback) whale was also observed accompanied by hundreds of short-beaked common dolphins. We stayed with the whales and dolphins for nearly two hours, getting great views of the spectacle as dolphins surrounded our vessel and the two humpbacks did a “swim-by” popping up on two separate occasions right next to our vessel, which sat safely out of gear. The presence of the fin whale, approximately 70 feet in length, was routinely announced by common dolphins which would pop up just moments before and ahead of the whale, riding its ‘bow’ wake as it surfaced. A minke whale was also spotted on several occasions and everyone had excellent views of the tiny, but tough Wilson storm petrels which numbered 100 or more. A few passengers were even lucky enough to get quick glimpses of two sea turtles (of unknown species) which were also (very briefly) encountered. Our trips remain 100% successful in finding cetaceans this season. Join us as we head out again this Sunday in search of more! Please remember to bring cash to purchase drinks and food from the galley and for our 50/50 raffle, if you wish to participate.

  • 2 sea turtles
  • 2 humpback whales
  • 1 fin (finback) whale (an individual not seen since 7/31/2010 - almost 13 years to the day), perhaps another as wrll
  • 1 minke whale
  • 100-120 Wilson storm petrels
  • 15-20 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 30-50 Great shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Patience and persistence pay off!

Our tenth trip of the season had us worker harder than usual to find cetaceans, but as with our other nine trips, we succeeded! We first headed south of Montauk following up on reports of whales, but instead of whales, we found several small pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins, collectively totaling 120-140 individuals. The dolphins were feeding and moving in tight circles around our vessel, in some cases charging towards an area and actively tail-slapping the water. Passengers had great views of the dolphins, which literally surrounded our vessel, and even heard vocalizations when they passed near the bow. We spent time observing their feeding strategies and tight-knit social structure, and even spotted a few mom/calf pairs swimming closely together. As wonderful as the encounter was, we moved on in search of larger cetaceans. At first, our only encounter was with a deadly killer; a mylar balloon floating at the surface. With the potential of being ingested by marine life mistaking it for food, we maneuvered the vessel to collect the balloon and remove the harm. This good karma may have played a role in what happened next; soon after, small tuna were seen breaking the surface and a blow was spotted in the distance. The whale was far off, but seemed to be humpback whale based on our initial observations. While waiting for the whale to surface, we encountered a fin whale approximately 75 feet in length. This whale turned out to be the same individual encountered on Wednesday’s trip (as identified by distinct notches on her dorsal fin). CRESLI knows this whale because, prior to these recent observations, she was last encountered in 2010, accompanied by a calf, not far from this location. We removed another mylar balloon and discovered the humpback whale while waiting for the fin whale to surface. Both whales were feeding on bait detected 50 feet below the surface in 170 feet of water, leading to long down times. We returned to port later than normal accompanied by a beautiful summer sunset heralding the end of a wonderful day.

  • 120-140 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 humpback whale
  • 1 fin whale
  • Leaping tuna (small)
  • 30 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 20-30 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 11 Great shearwaters
  • 1 Parasitic jaeger
  • 1 Glaucous gull

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Good things come to those who wait!

After a morning of wicked and lingering thunderstorms, the Viking Starship set sail under blue skies and calm seas for its 11th whale watch of our season. We quickly found a pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins, made up of between 30-40 individuals all actively feeding on bait near the surface. We enjoyed views of the dolphins before heading off to find larger cetaceans. Our search led us far offshore into waters where whales had been previously seen. Here, we searched in vain, before, at last, spotting a blow far off in the distance. The whale, observed through binoculars, was a fin whale and, in 170 feet of water, was presumably feeding on abundant bait 100 feet down. This led to extremely long down times and limited encounters. Unfortunately, we had to begin our transit back so we left this whale but continued looking. As the sun began to set on the day and our time at sea, we suddenly found ourselves in the presence of 6-8 (possibly more) humpback whales, dozens of Wilson’s storm petrels and Great Shearwaters, all feeding on plentiful bait at the surface. Upon our approach, one of the humpbacks breached clearly out of the water as if to articulate the excitement of passengers onboard. We then found ourselves in the middle of the action; safely out of gear as the whales popped up in every direction around the vessel. There may have been as many as 10-14 individuals, but it was difficult to look beyond those surrounding our vessel to verify. We spent as much time as we could with these magnificent animals before, once again, needing to return home. As we left, one of the whales began lobtailing (raising and slapping its tail out of/onto the water), as if to bid us farewell. Passengers at the back of the vessels counted 27 slaps before stopping. It was a great and fruitful end to our adventure!
We will be returning to this area on Wednesday. Want to join us?

  • 30-40 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 finback whale
  • 14 humpback whales
  • 1 sea turtle (loggerhead or green)
  • 80-100 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 60-80 Great shearwaters
  • 20-30 Cory’s shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Extraordinary is an Understatement!

There are not enough superlatives to describe yesterday’s incredible encounters! For our 12th trip of the season, we headed off to search for whales a few miles off Block Island where we saw them on our previous voyage. The transit was marked by large patches of pelagic birds: hundreds of Cory’s and Great shearwaters and Wilson’s storm petrels, some noticeably feeding at the surface, but no cetaceans were among them. That was until we spotted multiple blows belonging to, at first, 5-6 humpbacks, including two associated pairs feeding in rich tuna fishing grounds. To our surprise, two fin whales joined in, along with a minke whale, marking three cetacean species within a quarter mile of each other. We watched these whales for a while, before heading on towards additional blows, belong to two more humpbacks, and enjoying great views of these and the fin whales which approached close to our vessel. Just when we thought it could not get any better, we spotted a tremendous number of birds and bubbles ahead of us, followed by 4-5 humpbacks surfacing with mouths wide open, straining the prey through their baleen. This phenomenon was repeated by a group of three additional humpbacks nearby, along with many others in the near vicinity tail-throwing and chin breaching. The actual number of individuals remains to be determined through photographic analysis but preliminary estimates suggest that we encountered at least twenty humpbacks, possibly four fin whales, and 1 minke. A group of 40-60 short-beaked common dolphins also arrived along with a gray seal spotted in the harbor both before and after our cruise for the icing on the cake. It was an unbelievably amazing day on the Viking Starship and with only six trips remaining, you won’t want to miss your opportunity to join us during our incredible 2023 season!

  • 20-28 humpback whales
  • 3-4 fin whales
  • 1 minke whale
  • 40-60 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 gray seal
  • 350-500 great shearwaters
  • 80-120 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 120-180 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • Undetermined number of Pomarine jaegers
  • 120-180 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • Undetermined number of Pomarine jaegers

PHOTOS SOON
 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Extraordinary is an Understatement!

There are not enough superlatives to describe yesterday’s incredible encounters! For our 12th trip of the season, we headed off to search for whales a few miles off Block Island where we saw them on our previous voyage. The transit was marked by large patches of pelagic birds: hundreds of Cory’s and Great shearwaters and Wilson’s storm petrels, some noticeably feeding at the surface, but no cetaceans were among them. That was until we spotted multiple blows belonging to, at first, 5-6 humpbacks, including two associated pairs feeding in rich tuna fishing grounds. To our surprise, two fin whales joined in, along with a minke whale, marking three cetacean species within a quarter mile of each other. We watched these whales for a while, before heading on towards additional blows, belong to two more humpbacks, and enjoying great views of these and the fin whales which approached close to our vessel. Just when we thought it could not get any better, we spotted a tremendous number of birds and bubbles ahead of us, followed by 4-5 humpbacks surfacing with mouths wide open, straining the prey through their baleen. This phenomenon was repeated by a group of three additional humpbacks nearby, along with many others in the near vicinity tail-throwing and chin breaching. The actual number of individuals remains to be determined through photographic analysis but preliminary estimates suggest that we encountered at least twenty humpbacks, possibly four fin whales, and 1 minke. A group of 40-60 short-beaked common dolphins also arrived along with a gray seal spotted in the harbor both before and after our cruise for the icing on the cake. It was an unbelievably amazing day on the Viking Starship and with only six trips remaining, you won’t want to miss your opportunity to join us during our incredible 2023 season!

  • 20-28 humpback whales
  • 3-4 fin whales
  • 1 minke whale
  • 40-60 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 gray seal
  • 350-500 great shearwaters
  • 80-120 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 120-180 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • Undetermined number of Pomarine jaegers
  • 120-180 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • Undetermined number of Pomarine jaegers

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Check this one off your bucket list!

Passengers aboard yesterday’s whale watch excursion experienced the trip of a lifetime! It all began with a breaching humpback, which upon further investigation, turned out to be not one, but two whales! The possible mom and calf pair breached more than a dozen times, performing acrobatic twirls and twisting breaches directly ahead of our vessel. In the vicinity were blows from at least 7-8 other whales, but the boat sat safely out of gear watching the display until the pair (and we) moved on. We immediately encountered a handful of other humpback whales, at least two fin whales, and at least one minke whale. The animals were moving quickly completing shallow, subsurface dives to feed on the bait detected just below the surface. Then things got really interesting; humpbacks began popping up on all sides of the vessel straining prey through their baleen and flipper (pec) slapping. More blows spouted off in the distance while fin and minke whales popped up next to us affording spectacular views. Then, a pod of 40-60 short-beaked common dolphins came charging in to join the feast. Hundreds of shearwaters and storm petrels completed the guest list. There were cetaceans in close proximity everywhere you looked. More humpbacks appeared within a cloud of bubbles slowly moving along the surface (a technique known as dragging) to strain the engulfed water out through their baleen and retain their prey. A nearby breach surprised passengers at the stern and we all had the fortunate problem of not knowing where to look as the spectacle surrounded the Viking Starship entirely. Altogether, we encountered 20-26 humpbacks, 4-6 fin whales and 3-5 minke whales, with many others in the surrounding waters.

We have only five trips remaining in our incredible season. Book your trip with us today! Please remember to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to participate. We hope to see you soon!

  • 20-26 humpback whales
  • 4-6 fin (finback) whales
  • 3-5 minke whales
  • 160-220 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 260-320 Great shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater
  • 120-160 Wilson’s storm petrels

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Another multi-species day!

It was a beautiful day on the water, with unlimited visibility, and calm seas.  We had reports of dolphins and whales near Montauk and found both within a short time after passing Montauk Point Lighthouse. Groups of Inshore bottlenose dolphins were spread out around us, perhaps a total of 45 individuals were busy chasing prey and feeding. In a short while we moved a bit further away and found a humpback whale, MTK.2022.09.04-03, who we'd also seen on July 19, 2023, 1 nautical mile further south.
After watching these cetaceans for a while, we decided to hear eastward towards where we'd been seeing 20-30 whales for about 2 weeks.  To our disappointment, the prey and the whales were gone, they'd travelled well to the east, beyond our range.  We headed back and off in the distance saw a humpback breach several times, and as we approached , we realized that this was the same whale we'd left a few hours earlier. Were we elated, and this whale was joined by about 60 inshore bottlenose, chasing surface prey with even more activity than earlier. We return ed to the dock with lots of happy passengers and crew.

We have only a few trips remaining in our incredible season. Book your trip with us today! Please remember to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to participate. We hope to see you soon!

  • 105 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 Humpback whale
  • 84 Cory's shearwaters
  • 47 Great shearwaters
  • 20 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 1 Parasitic jaeger
  • 5 red-necked phalaropes

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 27, 2023

We never stopped looking and found them again! 

On a gorgeous day with excellent visibility, we headed out in search of cetaceans. We had reports of whales and dolphins near  the lighthouse and we found them quickly, within 3 nautical miles. The humpback we saw was one we'd seen in late July, and there were about 50 inshore common dolphins swimming around us as well.  We had reports of other whales to the east, where we'd been seeing them for a few weeks. Alas, they were gone. We headed back to where we'd seen our first whale, and found it again because it breached off in the distance. As we approached, we began to see other humpback blows. In fact, we found two associated pairs of humpbacks in addition to our first whale of the trip. We also found our typical array of Cory's and Great shearwaters, as well as Wilson's storm petrels. We got back to the dock about 20 minutes late, but the delay was well worth it.

  • 5 Humpback whales
  • 50 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 160 Cory's shearwaters
  • 57 Great shearwaters
  • 13 Wilson's storm petrels
  • ~200 Common terns (in one area about ~5 nm out)

Book your trip with us today! Please remember to bring cash to purchase food from the galley and our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to participate. We hope to see you soon!

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Bookended by dolphins and scintillated by a sunset!

Although passengers boarded the Viking Starship in the rain yesterday, the sun came out as soon as we set sail and stayed dry for the remainder of the trip. We began, almost immediately, with a group of inshore bottlenose dolphins, which were feeding on small patches of prey beneath the surface, before heading off in search of whales to our southwest. We searched in vain for a while, before coming upon an unusually small and inquisitive pod of short-beaked common dolphins which charged toward the vessel and remained with us for several minutes darting around and under the bow, affording great, up-close views of themselves. We eventually left these enigmatic animals to continue our search, finally coming upon a small humpback whale. The whale was spending time feeding just under the surface, completing shallow non-fluking dives to reach the bait detected just below the surface. We spent time with the young whale that eventually, revealed its somewhat hazy pigmented flukes on a deeper, high fluking dive at the end of our time together. As we traveled back to port, we were surprised by another group of bottlenose dolphins, which surfed and leaped in the accompanying swells. The dolphins, clearly having fun, nearly surrounded and played around the vessel. We continued home, coming upon additional small groups of bottlenose dolphins, and enjoying a spectacular summer sunset as we headed into port. Days like this are not meant to last, and only four trips remain in our season. We hope you can join us before it ends. iRemember to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and to participate in our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to.

  • 1 young humpback whale
  • 80-100 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 3-5 Short-beaked common dolphins
  • 60-80 Great shearwaters
  • 20-30 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 30-40 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 1 Manx shearwater

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Summer is still sizzling!

While Labor Day weekend traditionally marks a time to celebrate the unofficial end of summer, the CRESLI and Viking Fleet team was hard at work finding whales in the waters off Montauk. Reports of whales and dolphins had us searching an area to our east before heading west along the shoreline. Despite whales being seen earlier, the waters were now barren with only occasional patches of resting seabirds, bellies full from previous feedings. We briefly encountered a very small group of inshore bottlenose dolphins, which did not stick around for better views, unfortunately. All was not lost, however, as we soon found a humpback whale that we’d seen a week earlier, NYC0008, feeding on bait detected just below the surface. Interestingly, NYC0008 was first seen 10 years ago by our colleagues at Gotham Whale. NYC0008 alternated between periods of sub-surface (shallow) diving and logging (resting), often moving closely to our vessel which was safely out of gear. Eventually, it was time to head back towards the harbor, but the whales in the area had other plans. On our transit home, we encountered 4-5 additional humpbacks, two of which seemingly ‘bookended’ us, appearing left and right of our vessel and affording nice views as they alternatingly surfaced and dove ahead of us. While waiting for one of the two whales to surface, we observed blows far off in the distance belonging to the other 2 or 3 individuals. Then – what a treat! One of the whales appeared off our stern lob-tailing (tail slapping). With the sun soon setting and summer’s haze filling the sky, it was a beautiful end to our holiday weekend trip. Don’t be fooled: summer doesn’t end for a few more weeks and CRESLI has three trips remaining! Book today before the season ends for good.

Be sure to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and to participate in our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to do so.

  • 5-6 humpback whales
  • 2-6 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 20-24 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 40-60 Great shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Oh, what a trip! 3 species of cetaceans!

We didn't need patience on this trip, we found whales almost right away. We left the heat and headed out to sea. A short while after passing Montauk Light, we encountered our first of 15 whales. The 50 of us on board were treated to views of humpback whales, finback whales, and inshore bottlenose dolphins right away. We had one humpback breach and flipper slap, another throwing its tail repeatedly, and so much more. The fin whales (mom/calf pair) left early, and the rest stayed to feed on the abundant prey just below the surface. The dolphins stayed until a large humpback trumpeted. A humpback trumpet blow is often an agonistic display, perhaps aimed at the dolphins.  They took the message and left. We left as well only to find more humpbacks wherever we went. Unlike other trips, we were generally in sight of the Montauk Point Lighthouse. We stayed with one humpback for a while because we thought its left pectoral flipper was injured.  Photos and videos were sent to Dr. Jooke Robbins at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (https://coastalstudies.org/). Her initial response was that the behavior we saw was not necessarily due to injury.

We continued to find whales and dolphins until it was time to return to the dock. Book today before the season ends for good. Be sure to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and to participate in our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to do so.

  • 8-12 humpback whales 
  • 2 finback whale
  • ~150 inshore bottlenose
  • 1 Wilson's storm petrels
  • ~200 Great shearwaters
  • ~70 Cory's shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Another amazing 3 species trip, with a sideshow of amazing weather front views.

Our streak of consecutive cetacean sightings continues. We headed out to escape the extreme heat  and to find whales. On our way west, we got to see spectacular cloud formations to our south. We eventually entered an area where we hit a "wall of wind" as well as light rain and a 10-15 degree drop in air temperature. We were no more than 0.5 miles from shore and we all put on sweatshirts and/or raincoats. Shortly thereafter we found our first pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins. Later we found 2 juvenile humpback whales, then a minke whale, and then more pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins. All the while we were watching thousands of gulls and shearwaters raising a ruckus and feeding in the same shallow area where we found the whales. Make sure to view and listen to the videos posted at https://drartiek-cresli.smugmug.com/CRESLI-2023-Whale-Watches/2023-09-10-Montauk-Whale-Watch.

Book today before the season ends for good on 9/17/2023 (weather permitting). Be sure to bring cash to purchase food in our galley and to participate in our 50/50 raffle, should you wish to do so.

  • 2 humpback whales
  • 1 minke whale
  • 50 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • ~100 Cory's shearwaters
  • ~12 Great shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater (seen and photographed by a passenger)
  • 1 Wilson's storm petrel
  • Thousands of blackback, herring, and ring-billed gulls

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The End of an Amazing Season

To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect on our final whale watch of the season. Although, whales and dolphins remain in the area, Hurricane Lee which passed far to our northeast, whipped up very high seas from Friday night into Saturday, and although conditions calmed for us to sail, we never know what we might find after a storm of such impact moves through. Despite this, spirits were high as we searched an area where two whales had been spotted earlier aboard a Viking fishing vessel. Unfortunately, no whales were found, nor were the dolphins that had also been eyed that morning near the jetty from the same vessel. We saw a few Cory’s shearwaters and patches of diving terns as we sailed east of Block Island, an area where we have found many cetaceans on previous trips. This time, however, the area was barren. For a couple of hours, only a few sporadic gulls could be seen and little bait was detected, very unusual for such a typically productive area. The wind picked up as we sailed westward making for choppier seas, but visibility was unlimited and we continued searching. Then, a blow was spotted by the naturalist and investigated. It belonged to a small humpback whale, which was moving below the surface and completing shallow non-fluking dives, likely to feed on (and/or search for) the very limited bait that was detected at the top of the water column. We spent a good amount of time with the whale which eventually popped up closer to the vessel and finally dove deep enough to raise its magnificent flukes out of the water for all to see (and for CRESLI to obtain photographs sufficient to identify the individual). We continued searching on our transit home, as the summer sun set on our trip and our 2023 season. The storm may have made conditions unfavorable for finding whales, but our dedicated team succeeded one last time to make this another perfect season for finding cetaceans (our second in a row). 
We wish to thank everybody who participated in a whale watch with us and hope to see new and familiar faces next season! Thank you for your support.

  • 1 humpback whale
  • 3 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 3 shearwaters of unknown species

Photos to view and/or purchase images, prints, artwork to help support our work

 


 


2023-2024 CRESLI SEAL OBSERVATIONS at CUPSOGUE 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2023 SEAL WALK

Our first seal walk of this 2024 season was challenging, with brisk NW wind at 15 knots, and cold temperatures. We saw no seals hauled out, but with patience we eventually found 3 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) swimming and feeding on Atlantic menhaden.  Upon the return to the parking area, a few of us ventured to the ocean side and saw a large Atlantic gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) (not photographed). 

Photos are available to view and purchase

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2023 SEAL MONITORING

Seal monitoring trip with Jordan Kissane of News12. 14 harbor seals hauled out on the far NNE section of the sandbar, 600 yards away. A harbor seal named "Horseshoe" is back for his 19th year.

Photos are available to view and purchase

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2023 SEAL MONITORING and WALK

1.5 hours prior to the scheduled seal walk, as many as 50 Atlantic harbor seals were hauled out on the distant region of the sand bar, approximately 450 yards away. A Nikon Z8 with a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens at 600mm, on a tripod with a new ProMediaGear Gimbal head, made it possible to capture photos with enough detail to count the seals (using ImageJ). When Dr. Kopelman, the CRESLI volunteers and the folks who joined us returned, the seals were gone, except for a few we spotted swimming.  What caused the seals to flush from the sandbar, who knows? We were glad to see a few. The photos are primarily from the monitoring session prior to the walk.

Photos are available to view and purchase

TUESDAY DECEMBER 12, 2023 SEAL WALK FOR THE SOUTH OCEAN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Seal walk for South Ocean Middle School (Patchogue-Mefdord School District). We found 36-40 Atlantic harbor seals were hauled out on the distant region of the sand bar, approximately 400 yards away. 

Photos are available to view and purchase

SATURDAY DECEMBER 23, 2023 SEAL WALK

It was a beautiful day at Cupsogue Beach, perhaps too nice. We expect to see an average of about 50-60 seals per sighting in December, but none were hauled out.  We stayed where we could observe them without disturbing them, and ultimately found 11 harbor seals swimming in the area, including several that Dr. Artie Kopelman identified upon reviewing his photographs. Noise from shotguns, aircraft and lots of loud people at the shoreline of the Moriches Bay made it made it impossible for the seals to haul-out. Our plea to all who venture to view seals, go on a guided trip first and learn what not to do. You and the seals will be better off.

Photos are available to view and purchase

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2023 SEAL WALK

It was a gray and cloudy day at Cupsogue Beach. Again, we expected to see an average of about 50-60 seals per sighting in December, but just about 36 were hauled-out far away on the tertiary area, when Dr. Kopelman went to view the seals prior to the scheduled seal walk.Upon returning with the group, we found 20 seals had hauled-out on a further north region of the sandbar (quarternary area).

Photos are available to view and purchase

MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2023 SEAL WALK

A clear, warm, and calm day. During the monitoring session prior to the seal walk, Dr. Kopelman photographed between 60 and 80 seals hauled-out on the far eastern area of the sand bar (tertiary area). Upon arreival with the group, we watched from far away a the entire haulout left the sand bar. With patience, we observed the seals swimming and ultimately ~63 of them hauling out on the more northern quarternary area.

Photos are available to view and purchase

Thursday, December 28, 2023 SEAL WALK

About 30 people braved the weather and partially flooded park entrance for today's seal walk. The rain ended and the fog lifted as we walked to one of the viewing areas. As in some recent trips, we saw no seals hauled-out, but did see about 3 swimming in the distance. We waited patiently and eventually an Atlantic harbor seal swam directly in front of us, albeit some 120 yards away. That seal is named "Hammer-head-right," a female in the CRESLI Cupsogue Harbor seal catalog back for her 19th consecutive year!

Photos are available to view and purchase

Thursday, January 4, 2024 - SEAL - MONITORING

Just after sunrise, 128 harbor seals were hauled-out across the primary and secondary haul-out areas. It was wonderful to see them back at thwe closer areaa nd in good numbers. It was completely overcast and there were no major disturbances. Gun shots from duck hunters could be heard and some seals picked uop their heads and looked around briefly.

Photos are available to view and purchase

Monday, January 8, 2024 - SEAL WALK for OREGON MIDDLE SCHOOL

Seal walk for Oregon Middle School (Patchogue-Mefdord School District). We found 6 Atlantic harbor seals swimming and none hauled-out. A Nikon Z8 with a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens at 600mm, on a tripod with a new ProMediaGear Gimbal head, made it possible to capture photos of two of the swimmers.

Photos are available to view and purchase

Friday, January 12, 2024 - SEAL MONITORING

Seal monitoring session, joined by Joe Arena of News 12 Long Island and videographer. Luckily, their vehicle was able to traverse through the deeply flooded entrance to the parking lot. ~30 seals were hauled-out on their far NE tertiary area of the sandbar.

Photos are available to view and purchase

Saturday, February 3, 2024 - SEAL WALK

About 20 people braved the windy and cold conditions this morning. The sun had just risen as we talked about seals in the parking area. It was a beautiful morning, but again, no seals were hauled-out. We stayed and looked and eventually found 3 harbor seals swimming near the sandbar, and one splashing near the shore just east of us. Unfortunaely, no photos were taken. This has been a very tough year. On our 16 trips thus far, we have had only 527 seal encounters, compared to 983 by the 16th trip last year. We will be out there again soon and hope to have better results.

Thursday, February 8, 2024-SEAL WALK for MASSAPEQUA HIGH SCHOOL, MARINE BIOLOGY CLASS

Students from Hailey Giordano's, Marine Bio Class at Massapequa High School, working with Dr. Kopelman to help count and provide names identified seals, wer able to observe ~50 harbor seals on the tertiary haul-out area. Some seals eventually swam in our direction and 1 hauled-out on the primary sand bar.  a few  of the others were photogrpahed as they swam past us. 

Photos are available to view and purchase

Saturday, February 17, 2024 - SEAL WALK

Quite a few folks braved the snow to join us on this seal walk. The  snow made viisibility difficult, but we could hear ther growls of harbor seals and see them using binoculars, at a few spots through the trees on our walk.  However, once again, the seals had been flushed by a vessel and were gone by the time we got closer. We did see 1 harbor seal swimming, but no photos were taken.

Sunday, February 18, 2024 - SEAL WALK

Many intrepid people braved the wind and cold to join us on the walk.  We were not disappointed and found 51 harbor seals hauled out on the tertiary haul-out area. Although the seals were 630 yards from where we set up our telescope and camera, we were able to view 51 harbor seals huddled together on the sandbar. We decided to move to a further spot (710 yards from the seals) that gave us a slightly higher perspective, in order to get better views for counting. At our lower spot, we were somewhat p[rotected from the wind, but not so up in the camping area. However, all who stayed were happy to view undisturbed seals (albeit cold)

Photos are available to view and purchase

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

This was a beauiful day, albeit moderately windy. 6 Atlantic harbor seals were seen hauled-out on the far off tertiary region of the sandbar about 40 minutes prior to the walk. Upon return to the region, we observed those 6 seals swimming, porpopising, and cavorting, but no longer hauled-out

Photos are available to view and purchase

 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

A beautiful day, with little wind, and no direct observable disturbance of seals until later.  Dr. Kopelman maonitored the site prior to our walk and encountered aboput 60 seals hauled-out on the tertiary region of the sandbar. Upon returning with the participants, we found the seals resting in that same area. CRESLI volunteers counted 68-70 seals (confirmed by photos later). As we were ready to leave a Suffolk County Police Med-Evac Helicopter flew over the seals several times.  While the seals were undisturbed, that aircraft was very low and could have caused the eaals to leave the sandbar, a violation of federal and NYS state laws. The incident will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Photos are available to view and purchase

 

CRESLI 2022- 2023 SEAL SIGHTINGS AT CUPSOGUE BEACH

OBSERVATIONS

Saturday, November 26, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

3 Harbor seals swimming

Thursday, December 1, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

1 Atlantic harbor seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina) swimming while the dredging pipes were being removed

Photos available to view and purchase 

Sunday, December 4, 2022  Seal walk

2 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) observed swimming during our December 4, 2022 seal walk. One seal was "Right-Cheek-Dancers," a seal we've now seen on 5 occassions of the past 10 years. Dredging equipment was being removed, hence the disrtubance level was extremely high and no seals were hauled out.

Photos available to view and purchase 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

21 Atlantic harbor seals(Phoca vitulina vitulina. 5 were hauled out on rocks, the rest were hauled out about 1100 yards away.

Photos available to view and purchase 

Saturday, December 17, 2022 Seal walk

108 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) observed during our December 17, 2022 seal walk

Photos available to view and purchase

Sunday, December 18, 2022 Seal walk

108 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) observed during our December 18, 2022 seal walk

Photos available to view and purchase

Monday, December 19, 2022 Seal walk for the South Ocean Middle School

132 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) observed during our December 19, 2022 seal walk for the South Ocean Middle School. Just after the students left, the seals were flushed from the sandbar in response to the sounds of a distant approaching vessel that they recognized 

Photos available to view and purchase

Tuesday, December 20, 2022 Seal walk for Eastern Suffolk BOCES Islip Academic Center

2 harbor seals seen swimming

Photo available to view and purchase

Friday, December 30, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

74 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) observed during our December 30, 2022 seal moniitoring session, on the far NE section of the sand bar, 480 yards away. This group included "Triangle" back for his 15th season over 17 years

Photo available to view and purchase

Saturday, December 31, 2022

SEAL WALK

On a foggy, rainy morning, about 30 seals were hauled out on the far NE area of the sandbar about 600 yards from us. Before we could get ready, the seals flushed from the sandbar. We waited and watched as several floated past us, including 3 gray sealls. The conditions were difficult for photographing and just a few Atlantic harbor seals were photographed. We are looking forward to tomorrow's trip.

Photo available to view and purchase

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

On this lightly foggy morning, about 1 Atlantic gray seal (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) and 56 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) were hauled out on the far NE area of the sandbar. Conditions were difficult for photographing or ID'ing the seals, although "hammer-head-right," a female we've seen since 2006, was heard (even 600 yds away), and ID'd in one of the photographs. All photos were sharpened using available AI software

Photo available to view and purchase

Saturday, January 7, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION followed by a SEAL WALK

~52 Harbor seals and 1 gray seal hauled out at the far NE area of the sandbar (~800 yards away) were photographed and videoed 1.5 hours prior to our scheduled seal walk. When we returned, the seals were gone except for a few swimmers. It's sad and unfortunate that the seals get flushed from their haulout. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires that seals be given at least 150 feet of protection. We know that seals learn and respond adversely to the sounds of vessels (and aircraft) that have disturbed them in the past.  PLEASE GIVE SEALS THEIR SPACE

Photo available to view and purchase

Wednesday, January 17, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

137 harbor seals hauled (130 on the primary haulout area , with 7 on the secondary area)

Photos available to view and purchase

Thursday, January 18, 2023

SEAL WALK for the SAXTON MIDDLE SCHOOL

142 harbor seals hauled on the secondary area.

Photos available to view and purchase

Saturday, January 21, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION followed by a SEAL WALK

~40 harbor seals and photographed were seen 1.5 hours prior to our walk. About 20 were hauled out on the mostly inundated sandbar and 20 more were in the water. As our monitoring team was leaving, an airplane flew at low altitude directly over the seals and flushed them from the haul out area. That action is in violation of NYS and Federal law.  The plane's ID number was captured and will be sent to the appropriate authorities. It is so wrong to have someone deliberately fly low over the seals.  We returned to the site with our seal walk participants, many of the from the Sayville Middle School Explorers Club, to ultimately find 5 harbors seals swimming.

Photos available to view and purchase

Saturday, January 28, 2023

SEAL WALK for the Seatuck Environmental Association Greentree Teachers’ Ecology Workshop

As many as 57 seals sighted during a seal walk for Seatuck Environmental Association Greentree Teachers’ Ecology Workshop

Photos available to view and purchase

Sunday, January 29, 2023

SEAL WALK

CRESLI seal walk around sun rise. As many as 47 seals were hauled on on the far NW end of the sandbar.  Unfortunately kayakers and a motor vessel eventually flushed the seals and they headed to a more distant part of the sandbar

Photos available to view and purchase

Thursday, February 2, 2023

SEAL WALK for the Oregon Middle School

58 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) seen. 57 hauled on on the far NE end of the sandbar and 1 was hauled out on the rocks.

Photos available to view and purchase

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

6 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) were seen, 3 were hauled out on the rocks and 3 were swimming 

Photos available to view and purchase

Thursday, February 16, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

~89 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) were seen during this session. At first 80 were seen and counted including 4 on the rocks, 4 swimming and 72 on the far NE end of the sandbar (the teriary haulout site, which is now more often used). Later viewong the sandbar from a different angle, we were able to count 82 hauled out there, with 2 swimming and 4 still on the rocks

Photos available to view and purchase

Saturday, February 18, 2023

SEAL WALK 

4 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) on the rocks at Cupsogue Beach

Photos available to view and purchase

Sunday, February 19, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION and SEAL WALK

CRESLI seal monitoring session with 55 harbor seals hauled out (330 yds. away) at the NE (tertiary) haulout site and 1 swimming. Later during the seal walk, we viewed the haulout from 500 yds. away (at the camping area) and once again counted 55 harbor seals. Counts were conducted in the field using a Nikon EDG Fieldscope 65mm Straight Body, and from photographs using ImageJ 

Photos available to view and purchase

Sunday, March 5, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION and SEAL WALK

CRESLI Senior Scientist/Naturalist, Dr. Artie Kopelman, arrive at the site 2 hours before low tide. The far NE end of the sandbar (the tertiary haulout area) was awash, and the rocks were awash. He observed and documented nearly 70 Atlantic harbor seals haulout onto the main haulout area over a 10 minute interval. The seals remained undisturbed.  When we arrived later with our seal walk group and observed from the ridge at the camping area, there were 164 harbor seals, including our old friends "Horseshoe," "Paw-print," and "Hammer-head-right."

Photos available to view and purchase

Friday, March 17, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

153 harbor seals, 148 on the sandbar and 5 swimming

Photos available to view and purchase

Saturday, March 18, 2023

SEAL MONITORING and SEAL WALK

Prior to the seal walk, a monitoring session showed 101 and then 106  harbor seals hauled out on the primary haulout area of the sandbar. Returning with the folks on our walk 1.5 hrs later, we encountered 167 seals on the sandbar, our highest total for the 2023 season thus far.

Photos available to view and purchase

Sunday, March 19, 2023

SEAL MONITORING and SEAL WALK

The wind conditions were extreme, with N winds at 15 mph gusting to 25 mph. A monitoring session prior to the seal walk allowed Dr. Kopelman to watch 30-50 harbor seals hauled out on the primary haulout area of the sandbar, with several youger seals porpoising and chasing each other. Returning with the folks on our walk 1.5 hrs later, once again we encountered 167 seals on the sandbar and 3 on the rocks. While conditions were not great for photography, and while most folks who signed up never showed, the 20 people who joined us had an amazing experience.

Photos available to view and purchase

Friday, March 24, 2023

SEAL MONITORING 

Perfect conditions to view and photograph 150 harbor seals on the primary haulout region of the sand bar at Cupsogue Beach Park!

Photos available to view and purchase

Tuesday March 28, 2023

SEAL MONITORING

180 seals were hauled out in 2 clusters of 105 and 75 seals respectively. These included 1 juvenile Atlatic gray seal and 179 Atlantic harbor seals

Photos available to view and purchase.

Sunday, April 1, 2023

SEAL MONITORING followed by SEAL WALK

102 seals (101 Atlantic harbor seals and 1 juvenile Atlantic gray seal) were seen during the seal walk (89 seen 1.5 hours prior during our monitoring session)

Photos available to view and purchase.

Thursday April 13, 2023

SEAL MONITORING

During this monitoring session, the haulout was split up dramatically. One group of 11 seals (10 hauled-out and 1 swimming) were at the primary haulout area on the western end of the sandbar.  All the way to the NE end of the sandbar, easily 800m away was a group of aprroximately 21 seals. Eventually, after the dredging vessel that was moored on shore near the secondary haul-out area got underway, all seals moved to an area even furthe away where both groups found a resting place farther from the shore (the quarternary haulout area).

Photos available to view and purchase.

Saturday April 15, 2023 and Sunday April 16, 2023: Seals in the fog

The patchy fog on 4/15/23 and 4/16/23 required patience to see the seals (~20 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday), and even more patience to photograph them. Some of these images are exactly what we saw, others have been dehazed and sharpened, or dehazed and noise removed. Wildlife observation and photography can be tricky, yet still rewarding

Photos available to view and purchase.

Tuesday April 18, 2023

SEAL MONITORING SESSION 

During this monitoring session, as in the past few trips, the activity of moored  dredging support vessels caused the seals to leave their main haulour area and retreat to a distant area hundreds of yards to the NNE, where 15 seals were seen

Photos available to view and purchase.


2024 Shinnecock Cruise Reports
DATE REPORT
Saturday, January 27, 2024 

Fantastic trip! We were lucky enough to be able to watch as seals arriving from the ocean swam north towards the haul-out site. While just a few seals were hauled out at first, they kept coming 34 seals, then 47 seals, the 72, then 79, then over 90. We were able to observe some classic loud and sometimes violent contests between seals for space of the sandbar. We also many seals with distinctive markings including 2 that we'd last seen in late October. An amazing experience for all of us.

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Slideshow below

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Another amazing trip on Shinnecock Bay! CRESLI Senior scientist/naturalist, Dr. Artie Kopelman, with the help of his trained volunteers and the fantastic crew of the R/V Peconic, brought us to see 205 Atlantic harbor seals hauled-out on a sandbar in Shinnecock Bay. These photos were taken using a Nikon Z 8 camera and a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens. Some have been merged to form panoramic views to facilitate counting, and others were digitally cropped. All photos were taken without disturbing seals from distances in full compliance with federal and NYS statues regarding marine mammals. Our thanks to Captain Chris Winsor, and to Chris Paparo for their help. We also thank Stony Brook University, SoMAS and the Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton Campus. One final thank you to our co-sponsors, the South Fork Natural History Center and Museum

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Monday, February 19, 2024

 

Dr. Kopelman's Stony Brook University, Spring 2024 MAR395-01 (Marine Mammal Research Techniques) class, once again traveled on the R/V Peconic, to view and count seals on the Shinnecock Bay haul-out area. We encountered 141 seals: 140 Atlantic harbor seals and 1 male Atlantic gray seal. Our thanks, again, to Captain Chris Winsor and Mate (and classmate) Matt Dean

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here 

   

 

2023 Shinnecock Bay Cruise Reports

   
March 20, 2023  Suffolk Community College - Marine Bio Club trip .

Dr. Artie Kopelman, CRESLI's President, Senior Naturalist and Lecturer on Marine Mammals at Stony Brook University, led a trip organized by Dr. Marianne McNamara, Professor of Biology and CRESLI Naturalist, for the Marine Bio Club of SuffokCommunity College. We encountered 145 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) and 1 Atlantic gray seal pup (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) in Shinnecock Bay, during a CRESLI cruise on Stony Brook University's  R/V Peconic. We thank SBU SoMAS and Captain Brian Gagliardi

Photos can be viewed andf purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Slideshow below

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

A fantastic trip on the R/V Peconic, led by Dr. Artie Kopelman.  We encountered 91 harbor seals comfortably hauled-out on the sandbar. Captain Brian Gagliardi, as always, did an incredibly fine job allowing us to see the seals without any disturbance to them. We were also joined by Chris Paparo, Manager of the Marine Sciences Center of Stony Brook University Southhampton Campus, who introduced passengers to the bird life on Shinnecock Bay.

Photos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Slideshow below 

   

CRESLI 2022 Whale Watch Naturalist Blog

Sunday July 3, 2022

One of the best trips in 10 years

The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 27th consecutive season of whale watching trips with amazing encounters with 8 fin whales, 1 humpback (back for its 3rd time in the past 4 years), 2 groups of about 30 short-beaked common dolphins, and a large and diverse array of pelagic birds. The whales, dolphins, and birds were feeding on dense prey patches at 125-150 feet down. What a way to start!!

  • 8 finback whales
  • 1 humpback whale
  • 60 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 15 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 70 Great shearwaters
  • 10 Cory's shearwaters
  • 5 Sooty shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Another excellent day on the Viking Starship.

We started off with repoprts of dolphins, and we did find them, and kept finding them over the course of our trip, approximately 300 in total, including some newborn calves. We also found a loggerhead sea turtle and had brief encounter with a minke whale

 

  • 300 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 Minke whale
  • 1 Loggerhead sea turtle
  • 60 Great shearwaters
  • 15 Cory's shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater

 

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

An excellent day on the water with 120 short-beaked common dolphins and loads of pelagic birds

It was a beautiful afternoon on the Viking Starship. We had reports of whales nearshore and searched without success, we headed offshore and while we encountered pelagic birds, Portuguese Man-o-Wars, and too many balloons. It wasn't until we got back to the area we'd searched last Wednesday and found about 120 short-beaked common dolphins and hundreds of  shearwaters, a handful of Wilson's storm petrels, and an immature Northern gannet. The dolphins, came over and swam alongside, we were barely moving and had amazing views.

  • 120 Short-beaked common dolphins
  • 300 Great shearwaters
  • 25 Cory's shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater
  • 1 Immature northern gannet
  • 2 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 6 phalaropes (unable to determine species)

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 17, 2022

This was one of our best local whale watch trips of the past 10 years!!

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the trip. Suffice it to say that for most, it was the trip of a lifetime! We were surrounded by whales for a radius of several miles and we often saw the classic “picket fence” of whales blows that we would see on our offshore trips to the Great South Channel. Let’s let the number do the “talking.”

  • 12 humpback whales
  • 4 finback whales
  • 2 minke whales
  • 400 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1475  Great Shearwater (including a flock of 550)
  • 150 Cory's/Great Shearwater (“Based on what we saw they were most likely Great..”...)
  • 63 Cory’s Shearwater
  • 6 Sooty Shearwater
  • 4 Manx Shearwater
  • 323 Wilson’s Storm Petrel
    • Pelagic bird counts are courtesy of Steve Glover and are posted on e-bird

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, July 22, 2022

Another multispecies day!

No better way to beat the heat than with a whale watch! Comfortable breezes at sea were joined by dozens of small pods of short-beaked common dolphins throughout the voyage (200-250 total), including several mother/calf pairs and juveniles. Passengers listening closely at the bow could hear their clicks and whistles as the dolphins swam alongside the vessel. A mako shark sighting preceded that of a hammerhead to the delight of those aboard. One minke whale with a fishy-smelling exhalation gave new meaning to the term "stinky minke" (normally referring to their lack of a visible spray/blow and subsequent difficulty in spotting) as it surfaced close by. Two more minkes and a pair of finback whales were also observed. Pelagic bird sightings included (approximately) 120 Great Shearwaters, 40-50 Cory's Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 1 immature Northern Gannet, and 120-150 Wilson's Storm Petrels, half of which occurred in one large, beautiful flock. Escape the heat with us this Sunday as we sail along cool waters and explore more of this amazing coastal ecosystem

  • 2 Finback whales 
  • 3 Minke whales
  • 200-250 Short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 Hammerhead shark
  • 1 Mako shark
  • ~120 Great Shearwaters
  • 40-50 Cory's Shearwaters
  • 4 Manx Shearwaters
  • 1 immature Northern Gannet
  • ~120-150 Wilson's Storm Petrels

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Dolphins, pelagic birds, sharks, and a heartbreaking sight: a very ill humpback whale

It's a heat wave, but you can keep the heat and I'll take the wave. There are few better ways to beat the heat than with a whale watch! The high heat and humidity on land gave way to cool offshore breezes. We were treated to early views of pelagic shearwaters, which continued throughout the trip. The waters were choppy, so we decided to change direction to minimize wind and maximize sightings. As if on cue, we immediately stumbled upon a hammerhead drifting next to our vessel. Shortly after, a small group of short-beaked common dolphins spent time near our bow before we headed off in search of larger residents. Although the wind quickly dissipates the blow from whales, a spout was sighted and investigated. Upon arrival, we found a humpback whale very different from ones typically sighted. This individual was reddish/brown in appearance and was drifting slowly at and just beneath the surface. Upon further inspection using zoomed-in photographs taken of the individual, the humpback appears to be infested with cyamids, tiny crustaceans found only on the bodies of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Since this is an indication of distress, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) was immediately notified. AMCS reported the whale and its location to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency responsible for protecting whales under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Although humpback whales in the Northwest Atlantic are no longer considered endangered thanks to decades of conservation efforts, they are subject to entanglement with fishing line and gear which can severely weaken and/or drown the individual. NOAA and AMCS will continue to monitor this situation. As we returned home, a small group of bottlenose dolphins were spotted close to shore, wrapping up another successful trip. We sail every Wed and Sun until Labor Day; book your trip today!

  • 60-80 Great shearwaters
  • 1 Cory's shearwater
  • 1 hammerhead (likely a smooth hammerhead)
  • 4-6 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 humpback whale
  • 3 bottlenose dolphins

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

It just keeps getting better and better! 5 species of cetaceans and 6 species of pelagic girds on this trip

Twenty minutes from the Lighthouse and about 4 miles away we found 80-100 inshore bottlenose dolphins chasing bait at the surface and diving to 75 feet for bait at the sea floor. We headed on our way and found our first whales about an hour later.  We saw 7 different humpback whales blow at the same time! WOW! It gets better – there were two mom/calf humpback pairs including Rune and her 2022 calf. No other humpback researchers knew that she had a calf until we found with her! We have yet to ID the 2nd mom.  The humpbacks were breaching, bubble feeding, open mouth feeding, flipper slapping! WOW! We also had at least 4 finback whales – 2 mom/calf pairs. Oh, let’s not forget about 60 short-beaked common dolphins. Another spectacular trip and probably the best yet.

  • 7 humpbacks whales
  • 4 finback whales
  • 2 minke whales
  • 100 inshore bottlenose
  • 60 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 380 Great shearwaters
  • 120 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 8 Sooty shearwaters
  • 12 Manx shearwaters
  • 1 dark phase Parasitic jaeger
  • 2 red phalaropes

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, July 31, 2022

An absolutely majestic day aboard the Viking Starship today. 

We set sail under clear skies, calm seas, and unlimited visibility. An encounter with a hammerhead shark commenced our adventure, staying near (and long) enough at the surface for all to get a good look. Soon after, a small group of inshore bottlenose dolphins were spotted and enjoyed. As we searched for whales, several large pods of short-beaked common dolphins charged toward and surrounded the boat. A nursery made up of a dozen mother/calf pairs accompanied the large group which swam near, around, and beneath our vessel. A second hammerhead shark was spotted close by while a blow belonging to a humpback whale was observed in the distance. The whale began a series of tail slaps revealing the unique ‘snow white’ undersides of its flukes, which can be used to identify the individual. No sooner than we decide to move on in search of other cetaceans does the whale breach clear out of the water and demand our attention a bit longer. A third hammerhead is spotted and the large pod of common dolphin returns, encircling our boat (and the whale) with sightings in literally every direction. What a great day!

  • 20 Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins 
  • 250-300 Short-beaked Common Dolphins
  • 1 Humpback Whale
  • 3 Hammerhead Sharks
  • 80-100 Great Shearwaters
  • 3 Hammerhead Sharks
  • 80-100 Great Shearwaters
  • 1 Cory’s Shearwater

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Log another successful whale watch in the books; we are 9 for 9! 

Yesterday, we sailed under near-perfect conditions and spotted our first of four minke whales. While waiting for the minkes to resurface, we got a very nice look at a hammerhead shark swimming along the surface. This was the first of several sharks, two of which were confirmed as hammerheads. While searching for more whales, we passed a sea turtle and scores of pelagic birds. A breach announced the presence of our first humpback, a juvenile we previously encountered on Sunday’s trip. We then spent time with a second humpback; a curious juvenile who made viewing from the vessel easy and entertaining. We then found two more humpbacks, with blows from other whales observed in the distance. It was another great trip during what has turned out to be an amazing season. We sail every Wednesday and Sunday until Labor Day – come join us!

  • 4 minke whales
  • 4 humpback whales
  • 2 hammerhead sharks, 3-5 others
  • Sea turtle (of unknown species)
  • 80-100 Great Shearwaters
  • 8-12 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 1 Manx Shearwater
  • 14 Phalaropes
  • 1 Northern Gannet, juvenile

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Well, we found them again bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtle, and hammerhead shark

It was a bouncy ride for our first hours, but we enjoyed being away from the heat and being out on the ocean looking for wildlife. Pelagic birds flew around us most of the trip (Cory's, Scopoli's, and Great Shearwaters). We found what was most likely a loggerhead sea turtle, but never had great looks at it. Right after the turtle, we found the first of several small pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins feeding on prey at the surface and continued to search for whales.  A beautiful smooth hammerhead shark swam on our starboard side just feet away from us.  We had amazing views. Ultimately a humpback breached in the distance ahead of us.  It was one of the humpbacks we'd seen on our last trip. We began to see more and more humpbacks around us, and were ready to go to them. Unfortunately, a passenger experienced a serious medical issue  and we had to head to the dock and meet EMT's. As much as we wanted to see more whales, the health and safety of people onboard take precedence. As we headed towards the Lighthouse, dolphins came swimming towards us from all over.

We'll be back out there on Wednesday.

  • 2 humpback whales (there were 2 more that we couldn't get to)
  • 60 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 smooth hammerhead shark
  • 1 loggerhead sea turtle
  • 63 Great shearwaters
  • 10 Cory's shearwaters
  • 1 Scopoli's shearwater

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A truly HOLY S***T DAY! 3 species of cetaceans and hundreds of pelagic birds feeding on sand eels!

Breaching, open-mouth feeding, flipper slapping, mom/calf pairs, associated groups – you name the humpback behavior, we saw it.  At one point, whales, pelagic birds and large striped bass were feeding together on the abundance of prey.  It might be easier to let the photos and videos speak for themselves. Our senior scientist/naturalist/educator, Dr. Artie Kopelman, was on-board, and 2 days later is still reviewing the over 700 photos and videos. They will be posted soon along with the ID’s of the whales.

  • 14 humpbacks (including Mars, Apex, Glo-stick, Liner's 2016 calf, and NYC0185, as well as 9 newly ID'd whales)
  • 2 minke whales
  • ~180 inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • ~300 Great shearwaters
  • ~75 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 2 Sooty shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 14, 2022

It keeps getting better!!


We left the dock under exceptional conditions, cool comfortable weather, little wind, and unlimited visibility.  Within 5 nautical miles we found a massive group of several hundred inshore bottlenose dolphins. We stayed with them for a while and continued on our way. It took another hour before we saw whales breaching about 4 nautical miles ahead, once we got there we found 9 humpback whales, including some from our last trip. All seven were essentially moving as one, diving together, travelling together, feeding  near the bottom and returning to the surface together.  We know that humpbacks will cooperatively feed and often see that at the surface. Could they have been cooperatively feeding at depth? We’d like to think so.

  • 10 Humpback whales
  • 200+ Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 36 Great Shearwaters
  • 7 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 20 Wilson’s Storm Petrels

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

We found them again

The marine forecast called for 4-6 ft seas, heavy winds and rain, but we sailed out on relatively calm seas with the wind on our backs and rain falling only on the land behind us. Plus, they forgot to mention a 100% chance of whales! We started our successful trip with great views of a smooth hammerhead shark and spent some time with a very small pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins before heading farther offshore for "larger bounty". Three species of shearwaters, several large flocks of Wilson's storm petrels and a handful of common loons kept us company during the transit. Blows were spotted in the distance and we discovered eight individual humpback whales (likely more), including at least one mother/calf pair. At numerous times, we were literally surrounded with whales in all directions of the boat. Out of time, we returned to the dock, but not before enjoying a few more close-up views of the whales with blows from others in the distance. We remain 100% successful in finding cetaceans this season. We sail every Wednesday and Sunday until Labor Day; come join us!

  • 12 Humpback Whales, including one mom/calf pair
  • 4 Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Smooth Hammerhead Shark
  • 1 Cory's Shearwaters
  • 6-8 Sooty Shearwaters
  • 80-100 Great Shearwaters
  • 60-80 Wilson's Storm Petrels
  • 6 Common Loon

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Another Sunday on the sea with whales!!

Sunday was a calm day with little wind and small waves and gray skies.  We headed out to where we’d seen whales on our last trips and found the whales again about a few nautical miles further west. On the way we encountered a shark (undetermined species) and a loggerhead sea turtle.  We found humpbacks and fin whales.  While we stayed with the 12 or so humpbacks as they open-mouth and cooperatively kick fed on sand eels, we were never able to spend time near the fin whales (maybe next trip?).  These were adult humpbacks, some with calves, and some of the same whales humpback we’ve seen over the past month were there, as were new ones.  We passed by 2 juvenile humpbacks feeding on bunker on the way in, not far from Montauk Point Our photos taken by Dr. Artie Kopelman will be posted later today.

  • 8-12 Humpback whales offshore; 2 closer inshore
  • 2 Finback whales
  • 1 Loggerhead turtle
  • 1 unidentified shark
  • 60 Great Shearwaters
  • 8 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty Shearwaters
  • 2 Manx shearwaters
  • 11 Wilson’s Storm Petrels

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

We did it again!

It was another successful and beautiful day on the water. Having traveled miles offshore to observe whales on previous trips, we were treated to our first sighting just beyond the lighthouse: a breaching and tail-slapping humpback accompanied by a second, smaller individual. Not to be outdone, a shark (possibly a mako) appeared at the same time just beyond our vessel. After spending time with the two whales, we moved on to another spot where 3 more humpbacks would be identified. One of these had terrible propeller scars along the right side of its body. Although healed now, it was a reminder of the dangers from boat strikes and entanglements this population faces. Two minke whales were spotted before three additional humpbacks were spotted, one of which was also tail throwing. Rafts of Cory's Shearwater rested at the surface, likely with bellies full of fish, as blows of whales spouted in the distance. We remain 100% successful in finding cetaceans this season with only three trips remaining. Hope to see you out on the water with us soon!

  • 4-5 Humpback whales 
  • 2 Minke whales
  • 1 shark
  • 20 Great Shearwaters
  • 60-80 Cory's Shearwaters
  • School of 100+ bluefish and 1 leaping tuna

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Another 3 cetacean species trip!

Heading out on choppy seas and limited sightings reported locally, our experienced crew was determined to find cetaceans. Not far from shore, a veteran volunteer spotted a minke whale, the smallest of our local baleen whales, likely feeding on the dense patches of bait fish which could been seen as dark spots in the water. While observing the minke, passengers enjoyed close-up views of a hammerhead shark which swam near, around, and under our vessel to the delight of those onboard. Shortly after, a blow belonging to a humpback whale was spotted and investigated. We soon discovered a familiar "friend", an individual seen on our last trip and several previous trips this season. While spending time with this bottom-feeding humpback, we were treated to a thunderous tail throw and subsequent rollover at the surface. As we kept watch for more activity, a small pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins appeared nearby. Eventually moving away from the whale to observe the dolphins, we discovered two separate blows (from two distinct individuals) and pursued one of them, only to realize that we were back with our familiar friend. Dolphins reappeared on our return to the dock, wrapping up another successful day on the water. Only 3 dates remain for the season - book your trip today!

  • 1 Minke Whale
  • 2 Humpback Whales (the blow of a third was also sighted off in the distance)
  • 12-20 Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Hammerhead Shark
  • 40-60 Great Shearwaters

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Our successful trips continue: 2 humpback whales!


We headed out on a gorgeous day with unlimited visibility and clear skies. We weren't far out at all when we encountered our first humpback.  This was a small one, perhaps no more than 30' (9.14 meters) long. A minke whale was spotted briefly also. This young whale never fluked when diving and spent much time logging at the surface. We headed to find more and encountered a whale with propeller scars on its left fluke we'd seen last year, MTK.2021.08.15-04 (AKA NYC 0228). Since last year the prop scar closest to the trailing edge were broken through and we could see through it and could see water flowing through it.  This poor whale also had what appear to be fresh entanglement scars on its tail stock. We headed offshore to look for adult whales but found little.  On our was back we did catch a glimpse of a sea turtle and 12 cownose rays. We are looking forward to our last 2 trips of the season!

  • 1 minke whale
  • 2 humpback whales
  • 12 Cownose rays
  • 52 Great Shearwaters
  • 43 Cory's Shearwater
  • 2 Brown Pelicans

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Another stellar trip with 5 humpback whales!!

This incredible season continues! We didn't have to travel far from Montauk Lighthouse to find our first humpback.  This was Scylla's 2016 calf again. The propeller scars and damaged dorsal are hard to look at, but the resilience of this animal is a testament to its will to survive. This 6 year old whale is just almost 40 feet (12.2m) long, and was feeding on the bottom periodically and after a while came to the surface and first, we saw a massive "tail-throw," followed by multiple bouts of pectoral flipper-slapping, and rolling over, sometimes right next to us on the starboard side (our engines were out of gear, of course) and right under our bow.  Just amazing. A small private boat was nearby and appropriately remained motionless as this whale swam and flipper-slapped . The whale let loose with a trumpet-blow" as it dove just ahead of the small vessel. A trumpet blow, i.e., the exhalation has a distinctly audible trumpet-like sound, is often an agonistic sign  - a warning to the folks on the vessel. Scylla's 2016 calf (AKA NYC0224) came over to us on the next surfacing and also trumpet-blew. That was our sign to leave this whale alone.

We saw another humpback breach a few miles away and headed there. The breaching stopped and the whale was feeding and diving in shallow water and only undertook low fluking dives, at least 6 of them.  We left this whale and searched for others. Our 3rd whale was in extremely shallow water, inshore of us and we were in 22 feet of water. We watching bunker begin to jump and saw this  young whale surface lunge through a patch of bunker.  What a beautiful site!

15 minutes later we were with a fourth whale in slightly deeper water. There were layers of bait on the bottom and about from the surface to 15 feet.  We watched the whale dive repeatedly , full-fluking dives, and saw it release a massive fecal plume. We had to head in, but passed by another humpback, this one dove next to us and we recognized it from the fluke patterns and the foul-fetid stench of its blow.

An amazing trip!!

  • 5 humpback whales
  • 35 Great Shearwaters
  • 12 Cory's Shearwater
  • 1 Manx Shearwater
  • 1 Northern Gannet
  • 10 Willets
  • 1 shark (unidentified)

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work

Sunday, September 11, 2022

About 100 inshore bottlenose dolphins and  3 humpbacks including 1 new one, and once again spent time with Scylla 2016 calf. Towards the end of the trip, we decided to head offshore a little and as we turned back, we saw breaches and as we sailed to the whale we saw 11 more consecutive breaches, several tail throws and flipper slaps. We got close- it was Scylla’s 2016 calf again!  He stopped breaching but kept flipper slapping including coming up right next to us. Great way to end the season!

  • 3 Humpback whales
  • 112 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 14 Great shearwaters
  • 3 Cory's shearwater

Photos to view and/or purchase to help support our work


2021-2022 SEAL SIGHTING OBSERVATIONS AT CUPSOGUE BEACH

Monday November 15, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

21 Harbor seals hauled-out 

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday November 20, 2021

SEAL WALK

We saw just 1 harbor seal in Moriches Bay near the haulout site, but weren't able to get a photo. We later searched for and found 2 humpback whales seen about  400-800 meters from shore on the ocean side.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday November 28, 2021

SEAL WALK 

43 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) and 2 Atlantic gray seals (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) on the new secondary haulout area of the sandbar, NNE of what was the main haulout site at Cupsogue Beach County Park. These seals were approximately 800 yards away, in an area used when disturbed and flushed from the primary eastern haulout site. We watched a the seals reacted en-masse to an  unknown disturbance to their west (based upon the rapid head turns). Over the ensuing 30 minutes, we continued to remain low and quiet and watched as the seals swam past us, a few briefly looking our way.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Wednesday December 1, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

51 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) and 2 Atlantic gray seals (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) on the new secondary haulout area of the sandbar, NNE of what was the main haulout site at Cupsogue Beach County Park. 

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday December 2, 2021

SEAL WALK FOR OREGON MIDDLE SCHOOL

44 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) and 2 Atlantic gray seals (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) on the new secondary haulout area of the sandbar NNE of what was the main haulout site at Cupsogue Beach County Park. These seals were approximately 650 yards away.  I regret to note that we were TOO LOUD and the seals reacted by jumping into the water. We left the area to allow the seals to return, which they did in about 10 minutes.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday December 4, 2021

SEAL WALK

25-30 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) were hauled out very far away at the tertiary northeastern haulout area.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday December 12, 2021

SEAL WALK

We encountered about 20 seals hauled out at the tertiary far northeastern haulout area, but they were flushed into the water. Here are several of those that remained

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Monday December 13, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION 

Taken over 1.5 hrs, 25 (early)- 63 (later) seals (60 Atlantic harbor seals and 3 Atlantic gray seals), hauled out at the far NE haulout area at Cupsogue

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday December 16, 2021

SEAL WALK FOR SAXTON MIDDLE SCHOOL

Once again the seals were far off on their haulout area to the NNE . Approximately 30-35 seals were observed and photographed

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday December 19, 2021

SEAL WALK

The winds were from the N gusting over 25 knots (31.25 mph), the water level was so high that the "new" haulout area was underwater.

No seals were hauled out and we were able to see 2 seals swimming.

No photos were taken.

Monday December 20, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION 

There was no wind and the water was like glass (Beaufort Scale 0). Approximately 35 seals were seen, including a few harbor seals that were photographed swimming near the "old" haulout area across from the old overlook above the rocks.

The majority of the seals were hauled out on a new spot, even further north, almost 3/4 of a mile away.  They were so far away that it was impossible to get an accurate cont.  The exact reasons for this  change in haulout areas are unknown.  We hope that the changes are temporary and that the seals will ultimately return to their normal haulout areas soon.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Monday December 27, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION 

65 harbor seals hauled out, then flushed from the "new" haulout area in Moriches Bay. Later a harbor seal and a humpback whale were seen on the ocean side as well

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Tuesday December 28, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION 

75 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out, 66 hauled out in the "new" area NNE, 9 hauled out in the prior main haulout area. One seal we hadn't seen since March 2016, Lucky, was back.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Friday, December 31, 2021

SEAL WALK

Approximately 70 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out,  in the "new" area NNE

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, January 2, 2022

SEAL WALK

While monitoring the fog-bound haulout area prior to the seal walk we found about 30 seals hauled out in their "old place," namely the area they used from 2004-2006. 1.5 hours later, the seals were still fog bound, but at their "new" distant haulout to the NE. We waited paitiently and in a short while the fog cleared to show us ~90 seals hauled out in the "new" area.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, January 9, 2022

SEAL WALK

75 seals at sunrise! 29 at their main haulout area and 46 on the new area on the NE end of the sandbar.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, January 16, 2022

SEAL WALK

12 harbor seals observed swimming

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, January 20, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Up to ~41 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday, January 22, 2022

SEAL WALK: Seatuck Environmental Association's Greentree Foundation Teachers’ Ecology Workshop

Again to ~41 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach. This time we were there for a beautiful sunset

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

113 Atlantic harbor seals  (1 on rocks and 112 on the primary haulout area) in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Friday, January 28, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

146 Atlantic harbor seals on the primary haulout area in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, February 10, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

145 seals: 2 swimming Atlantic gray seals, 2 swimming Atlantic harbor seals, 137 Atlantic harbor seals on the tertiary haulout area on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach, and 4 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on rocks

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday, February 12, 2022

SEAL WALK 

132 Atlantic harbor seals on the secondary haulout region of the sandbar at Cupsogue Beach. They remained from about 7:00 AM until around 10:30 AM when there were spooked from the sandbar by some unscupulous person flying a drone. PLEASE NEVER FLY A DRONE ANYHWHERE NEAR RESTING SEALS!

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, February 13, 2022

SEAL WALK 

5 Atlantic harbor seals swimming and cavorting on a snowy morning

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

128 Atlantic harbor seals on the tertiary haulout area on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Monday, February 21, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

132 Atlantic harbor seals on the tertiary haulout area on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, February 24, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

5 harbor seals swimming (including old-timers "Starburst" and "Horseshoe," as well as the new "Theta right.". All others were gone.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday, February 26, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION followed by a SEAL WALK

No seals were hauled out on the sand bar prior to or during the seal walk. 8 seals were seen in total, 4 before the walk and another 4 during the walk, all were on and/or near the rocky haulout area.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, February 27, 2022

SEAL WALK

With howling NW winds, we were able to view ~42 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out in a tight group at the tertiary region of the sandbar.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

SEAL WALK

We found 92-106 seals hauled out on the NE tertiary haulout region of sandbar and later found 1 seal hauled out on rocks

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, March 10, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

101 Atlantic harbor seals on the tertiary haulout area on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, March 10, 2022

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

101 Atlantic harbor seals on the tertiary haulout area on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay at Cupsogue Beach.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, March 13, 2022

SEAL WALK

Once again, with strong winds out of the NW, seals were swimming or hauled out on the rocks and stayed in the lee of the wind. The newly named "theta right" was seen swimming. Looking back over images, it was determined that "theta right" is the entangled seal we've seen now for 13 years. It is still being strangled by plastic

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

SEAL WALK

About 35 seals at the NE haulout area at Cupsogue 2022.03.16. This video was taken 1.5 hrs prior to the seals being spooked by an airplane illegally flying very low (~450 feet) overhead. The plane's ID was sent to the authorities.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, March 26, 2022

SEAL WALK

168 seals were seen this day, including 1 Atlantic gray seal and 161 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on the sandbar and 4 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on the rocks seen during our seal walk. After the walk Dr. Kopelman was told, by Cupsogue Beach Superintendant Ryan Sommerville, of a seal on the ocean side lying at the high tide wrack line. This was a yearling harp seal. The seal was reported to the NYS Stranding Hotline (631) 369-9829. All harp seal photos were taken at 200' with a 600mm telephoto lens.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, March 27, 2022

SEAL WALK

Interactions between ~50 Atlantic harbor seals and juvenile bald eagles on the secondary (closer) haulout area of the sandbar in Moriches Bay. Eventually all seals were flushed by the eagles.  Later 1 young gray seal hauled out on the rocks 

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

124 Atlantic harbor and 1 gray seal hauled out on the far NE edge of the sandbar in Moriches Bay

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Thursday, April 07, 2022

1 Atlantic harbor seals swimming in Moriches Bay

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday, April 09, 2022

65 harbor seals today. 60 hauled out on the far NE region of the sandbar, 3 on on the rocks, and 2 swimming in Moriches Bay

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, April 10, 2022

On this seal walk we encountered 81 seals hauled out on the secondary (closer) haulout region of the sandbar in Moriches Bay.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

On this seal walk we encountered 30 seals hauled out on the far NE region of the sandbar Moriches Bay.

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Saturday, April 23, 2022

12 harbor seals hauled out on the far NE region of the sandbar in Moriches Bay

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

Sunday, April 24, 2022

19 harbor seals were hauled out on the far NE region of the sandbar Moriches Bay and photographed from 670 yards away prior to the seal walk.  When we arrived over an hour later, the seals were gone from the NE region of the sandbar. We stayed and talked and eventually were able to watch a lone harbor repeatedly haul-out and return to the water. 

PHOTOS available to view (and/or purchase) via this link

 

 


 


 

 

2021 WHALE WATCH OBSERVATIONS

Saturday June 26, 2021

Brief encounter with 20 Inshore bottlenose dolphins and good variety of pelagic birds

The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 25th consecutive season of whale watching trips slowly, i.e., finding dolphins. While we were successful in finding cetaceans (the group of animals that include whales, dolphins, and porpoises), our encounter with 20 inshore bottlenose dolphins was brief. We saw them crossing our bow about 500 yards away, but never really got good views of photographs.  The dolphins seemed to be intent on feeding and quickly moved away.  While we tried to find them again, we were unsuccessful.

The pelagic bird life was quite good, seeing 5 different species including 30 Cory’s shearwaters, 8 Great shearwaters, 1 Sooty shearwater, 1 Manx shearwater, and around 50 Wilson storm petrels

A good way start to the 2021 season. We hope to find more tomorrow

  • 20 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 50 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 8 Great shearwaters
  • 30 Cory's shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater
  • 1 Manx shearwater

Photos from 6/26 and 27

Sunday June 27, 2021

Humpback and another day with a good variety of pelagic birds

We left the dock at Montauk to clearing skies and fair weather for the second trip of the season.  Today the Viking Starship rounded Montauk Point and cruised southeast.  Over the next few hours we covered a lot of ocean searching for whales.  We observed good numbers and a variety of seabirds along our trip.  Eventually we were excited to start seeing isolated "blows" in the distance.  We proceeded to close with the whale but it was not making many visible blows and was moving, not feeding in one place.  We continued to search heading closer to Long Island and saw a few blows, probably indicating more than one whale in the vicinity.  At one point we saw two blows close together, one larger and one smaller, so perhaps a cow-calf pair.  

We were able to get closer to a Humpback whale who was taking a series of three surface breaths and then diving for about 10 minutes, probably feeding on the baitfish in the area.  Towards the end of our day we got close enough to see it and take a useful photograph of its fluke, allowing us to identify our 1st humpback of the 2021 season.  It was whale NYC0005 (part of the catalog of our research partners at Gotham Whale in the western NY Bight). The last time we'd seen NYC0005 was in August 2018 just 1.5 nautical miles  from yesterday's spot.

  • 1 humpback whale
  • 5 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 20 Great shearwaters
  • 14 Cory's shearwaters
  • 3 Sooty shearwaters
  • Photos from 6/26 and 27

Wednesday June 30, 2021

Finback whale!

We left the dock at Montauk to look for whales and escape the heat.  Once we got into water with sea surface temperatures in the 63-640F, we relished the cool air. The winds were as predicted, SW at 15-20 knots, the seas were as predicted also at 3-4 feet. We headed SW 8 for nautical miles and saw few birds and no cetaceans. We then headed due east and 3 nautical miles later, a whale blows right next to us. It was a faint blow, but a blow none-the-less. This was our first encounter with what eventually was identified as young finback whale ~45' long.  We slowly followed this deep diving, 5-8 minute diving whale for 5 nautical miles, the whale was feeding near the bottom (120') on dense prey patches.  The sea conditions and the speed of this whale made it nearly impossible to clearly identify (although we believe it to be a fin whale) until it steeply surfaced and we could see the unique fin whale characteristics: white right lower jar, blaze, eye stripe, chevron. This whale had distinctive killer whale raking scars on its dorsal fin, and entanglement scars across its back.

What an amazing sight! What a special day! Our 168th identifiable fin whale since 2009!

  • 1 finback whale
  • 2 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 1 Great shearwaters
  • 3 Cory's shearwaters
  • Photos from 6/30/2021

Sunday July 4, 2021

Pelagic birds – yes! Cetaceans – no!

After 31 consecutive successful trips since July 17, 2019 and for only the 11th time since 2009, we were unable to find a cetacean (whale, dolphin, or porpoise.  The conditions were excellent, with unlimited visibility, clear skies, cool temperatures (sea surface temperatures from 52.850F to 67.730F). We traveled over 40nm and encountered pelagic birds often, we saw no whales.  Their prey has begun to show up abundantly, in some areas from the surface to the bottom.  We will find them again

  •  71 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
  • 23 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 11 Great Shearwaters
  • 1 Northern Gannet (immature)
  • 2 black terns (seen near shore and ID’d by birders) 

Wednesday July 7, 2021

We’re back at it again: Humpback and short-beaked common dolphins!

It was the perfect day to get on the water, escape the heat, and look for whales and dolphins. The visibility was good, as were the seas and we headed out to the SSE. It was an hour before we found our first blows from a humpback whale.  We traveled with this whale as it searched for food over the next 75 minutes and 2 nautical miles, sometimes being down for 7-8 minutes. This was a young humpback and one we’d not seen before, our 139th different humpback off Montauk since 2009. On our way back, we encountered a rambunctious pod of 30 short-beaked common dolphins

  •  1 Humpback whale
  • 30 Short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 Thresher shark
  • 15 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
  • 40 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 20 Great Shearwaters
  • Photos from 7/7/2021

Saturday July 10, 2021

An Awesome Day of Whales and Dolphins!

We left Montauk today with overcast skies, heading southeast to where we had previously seen whales.  As soon as we passed Montauk Point, we had reports of dolphins close inshore, south of the point.  We headed over and soon came upon a pod of about 10 bottlenose dolphins.

After some time with these dolphins, we continued southeast.  We had only traveled about 4 miles before we started to see “blows”.  We came up to a group of 6 humpback whales. They remained in this one area actively feeding.  We got some great looks at both the mature and a younger, small humpback (who once swam under the boat and surfaced only 30 feet away).  

 

The whales were making short dives to feed on the abundant bands of fish at the bottom and then on some fish at the surface.  The dolphins from earlier arrived, were joined by another pod of bottlenose, and rapidly attacked the surface schools of fish, churning the water white.  Several of the dolphins were swimming very close to a few of the whales, perhaps opportunistically catching fish fleeing from the feeding humpbacks.   We stayed with these whales for a few hours, with passengers getting good looks of the whales feeding all around the vessel and were able to take some good ID photos for the database.  One adult humpback had been struck by a large propeller and had extensive scars to show for it.

 

Being so close to Montauk some of the photographers aboard managed photos of whales with the lighthouse in the background for some memorable images.

  •  6 Humpback whales
  • 40 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 15 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
  • 4 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • Photos from 7/10/21

Sunday July 11, 2021

Another Awesome Day of Whales and Dolphins!

We left Montauk today with unlimited visibility and headed to where we had seen whales on Saturday.  As soon as we passed Montauk Point, we looked for dolphins and continued heading southeast.  Our first blows were from a whale seen on Saturday.  This poor whale is identifiable because of a massive set of propeller scars on its right side and its dorsal fin was mostly gone.  This is a young whale that had been seen in the NY harbor area and catalogued as NYC0224 by our colleagues at Gotham Whale. It was last seen around NYC on 6/25. We stayed with this whale for a while and headed to a second whale in the area. We ultimately met and photographed 4 humpbacks on this trip.  They were busy feeding and looking for food, often times coming up right next to us to check us out.  We are never in gear when waiting for whales to surface and presented no threats. After a few hours with the whales, it was time to head back.  On our way in we saw a groups of about 40 bottlenose dolphins and we stayed with them for a bit before proceeded back. By the way, we did have to retrieve many balloons on this trip, please never release helium filled balloons!

  •  4 Humpback whales
  • 40 Inshore bottlenose dolphins
  • 32 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
  • 2 Cory’s Shearwaters
  • 20 Great Shearwaters
  • 1 Manx Shearwater
  • 1 Sooty Shearwater
  • Photos from 7/11/21

Saturday July 17, 2021

7 Hammerhead sharks, a tail throwing/slapping humpback, bottlenose dolphins, and too many balloons!

We headed out to look for whales and once again to escape from the heat. The visibility was 4 miles at first, but continued to open up as we headed south for a while, then east and after 2 hours from the dock we found our 1st surprise - a large hammerhead shark (unsure of which species). Every direction we moved brought us new hammerhead sharks. Over 0.6 nautical miles, we encountered 7 different hammerheads.  That's a record for us. As we continued on, we saw little,  and picked up too many balloons (c'mon folks it's time to stop), but never stopped looking. At around 6 PM we saw a blow in the distance, and soon smelled the putrid, fetid, foul odor of a humpback with a possible lung infection (whale flu, as termed by Dr. Paul Forestell and others). The whale (NYC0084) was tail-throwing and tail-slapping (behaviors often used for non-vocal communication). We were in 130' of water, but the prey were only 35' down, so this whale did some low-fluking dives in search of food. We eventually had to leave, just as a small pod of about 20 bottlenose dolphins paid us a brief visit.  We headed in through pea soup fog and returned late, but happy.

Wednesday July 21, 2021

Another double species day! Humpbacks and minke whales!

We headed out to excellent conditions with nearly unlimited visibility,2-3 foot seas,and reports of whales and dolphins nearby. With the predicted stormy conditions to occur within a few hours, we headed west and stayed nearer to shore than on previous trips. Spoiler alert - the predicted severe weather passed to our south.  We found 2 humpbacks and a minke over a 2 nautical mile stretch.  Both were young and active. One was tail throwing, and later breached right next to us.  The nd whale was resting (logging) quite often, interspersed with dives and close approaches. Our 1st humpback showed up again and we watched it follow bunker (Atlantic menhaden) and lunge feed though large piles of bunker.

Saturday July 24, 2021

Minke whale, bunker, and Ocean sunfish!

Beautiful day to be out on the water today, calm seas of 1 – 2 feet, unlimited visibility and water temperature between 70 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit.  While traveling west along the coast of Montauk we came upon a large school of bunker (Menhaden).  Hoping to find some cetaceans looking for a nice meal but not luck.  Traveling away from the coast, we found an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) which swam directly next to the boat giving everyone onboard a great view.  Traveling further away from shore a Minke whale gave us three quick views before disappearing out of sight

Wednesday July 28, 2021

A special day!! 7 humpback whales,1 minke whale, 120 bottlenose dolphins!!

 

Our best day of the 2021 season so far started with many whale reports. good visibility and good seas. Within 35 minutes of Montauk Lighthouse we were with the first of 8 humpback whales. We encountered just about every humpback behavior we could think of including: breaching, flipper-slapping, tail-slapping, tail throwing, low fluking dives, high fluking dives, logging. Here, we also found 120 inshore bottlenose dolphins (3 groups of 40) and 1 minke whale. We often had whales on every side of the vessel. All of this in a 3.5 square mile area

Saturday July 31, 2021

2 humpback whales

Within 20 minutes of passing the Montauk Lighthouse, we saw our first whale spout.  We spent some time with this young humpback whale giving us a blow or two and before diving down.  Showing us its tail fluke, presumably to forage on baitfish close to sea floor and then surfacing every three minutes or so. This humpback gave us a peduncle throw for everyone to see as well.  Continuing heading west, we saw another young humpback whale giving us a blow or two before diving.  This humpback only fluked once likely feeding close to the surface.  Overall, a very nice day out on the water with unlimited visibility.   

Sunday August 1, 2021

Another successful trip! 2minkes and 1 humpback!

What a wonderful day we had on the Viking Starship! Unlimited visibility and crisp cool air were perfect conditions for finding whales. Again with 30 minutes of passing Montauk Light, we found a minke whale that allowed us some wonderful views as it swam repeatedly near the bow. We headed further and 45 minutes later, another minke (larger the 1st one) surfaced within 2 yards of the starboard side of our bow sprit. Captain Davy immediately stopped and the whale dove as the crew collectively held its breath. Within 30 minutes we encountered a 27-36' humpback that was one we had seen on Wednesday, We had amazing views as this whale rolled over and was logging (resting) with intermittent low-fluking and high-fluking dive to reach the massive concentrations of prey at 40' (mid-water) and 75' (bottom).

Wednesday August 4, 2021

Whales in the rain!

We headed out with excellent visibility and just a light misty rain, hoping that the rain would stay to our south. Oh well, we were wrong, although when the wind was behind us, the rain was quite tolerable. We weren’t really fazed by the rain and continued to search for whales. After about an hour, a minke whale did a full-body breach just 200 yds from then port bow. It was an amazing, yet fleeting sight that only a handful of us saw. An hour later we saw the tell-tall splash of a breach and headed to find a humpback lunge feeding and taking high-fluking dives. These were great sights that made the rainy trip worthwhile. The humpback was one we’d seen in this area 2 weeks earlier

Saturday August 7, 2021

Only fainting glimpses today.

Nice weather, favorable seas and 10+ miles of visibility, while traveling over 44 miles only yielding a few of us a brief view of a cetacean.  We had an unidentified whale blow spotted by one of our CRESLI volunteers a mile or so behind us.  We searched long and hard but never saw the whale come up again.  A while later, a dolphin was spotted by a few members of the crew only to swim away and not seen again.  We also had an unknown shark species swim by close to the boat, giving people on that side a quick view before disappearing. We do not get many trips like this with great conditions and little to no sightings.  Our track record says we will have better days in the future.

  •  1 unidentified whale species blow
  • 1 dolphin
  • 1 shark
  • 6 Cory’s shearwaters

Sunday August 8, 2021

Another AMAZING multi-species day! 

Unlimited visibility, flat seas, gray skies, with just a few sprinkles for 2 minutes after leaving the dock - a far cry from the storm/rainy weather to our west. Our first whale was a minke, not far from Montauk Lighthouse. Within 45 minutes we saw 2 other minkes, and then the first of 5 humpback whales. Within an hour we found 3 more minkes, another humpback, and 15 inshore bottlenose dolphins and that was just the beginning. Within the next 40 minutes we encountered 4 more humpbacks and 45 more inshore bottlenose dolphins. To top it off, we found a smooth hammerhead shark on our way back in.

Wednesday August 11, 2021

4.5 year old humpback whale (Liner 2016 calf) again!

Today, the fog that had been around for hours lifted and we were able to head out. Our 3 miles of visibility was enough and within 30 minutes after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we found our 1st whale. This was a 4.5 year old humpback whale (Liner 2016 calf) that has been around Montauk for at least 4 weeks. It was busy feeding on prey at the bottom, spending up to 9 minutes down. At one point, it BREACHED right off our port bow (15 week away). An awesome full body breach!

After spending 50 minutes with this whale, we decided to look for others. What we found, unfortunately, was dense fog everywhere. That was it and we decided to head back to port.

Saturday August 14, 2021

An awesome 3 species of cetaceans day

Another great day to be out on the water.  10+ miles of visibility, calm seas, a cool breeze and plenty of sunshine.  Less than half an hour after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we came upon a pair of humpback whales giving us plenty of views with short dive times due to large schools of Atlantic menhaden (bunker) at the surface.  One even showed off giving us a few peduncle throws. As the Viking Starship continued heading west we found 3 minke whales with one of them giving us a couple of nice views to make comparisons of size and behavioral patterns with the humpback whales we had just seen.  Next we saw a large Mola mola (ocean sunfish) just resting at the surface.  As we headed further south we found another humpback whale and 30 – 40 inshore bottlenose dolphins.  Continuing our trip, we found another minke whale and approximately 20 inshore bottlenose dolphins swimming in the same general area.   There we several whale blows off in distance in multiple directions that we just did not have time to investigate.  As we headed back to Montauk, we saw approximately 10 dolphins and another minke whale.  Later approaching the lighthouse, our original 2 humpbacks put on quite a show breaching and pec slapping filling up customer’s memory cards with many pictures and videos. What a fabulous way to end a great trip.

Sunday August 15, 2021

Another spectacular 3 species trip! Humpbacks, minkes, and inshore bottlenose dolphins!

We couldn't have asked for better conditions - unlimited visibility, 10-15 knot winds out of the NW, and 2' seas that later flattened out as the wind changed to SW. Within 20 minutes of passing Montauk Lighthouse we were on our first whale, MTK.2021.08.15-01, a flipper slapping, rolling humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae). 20 minutes later, we are visited by a small ocean sunfish (Mola mola). 20 minutes later, we  meet our 2nd humpback and our 3rd humpback a few minutes after that. 20 minutes later, we encounter our 4th humpback.  It's a young whale (small) and has survived an encounter with a propeller that left terrible scars on its left fluke. It was resting periodically and feeding, but it looked to be unwell and weak, or so we thought, due to the tremendous areas of sloughed skin. We ever wrong! Five breaches followed by 10 minutes of flipper-slapping showed how much energy this whale had. Throughout our hours among the humpbacks we encountered 3 different minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). As we headed in, we encountered an aggregation of several small groups of inshore bottlenose, perhaps 45 in total.

Wednesday August 18, 2021

Our best trip of the year!!

Once again we had perfect conditions and lots of whales reported to us. 15 minutes after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we saw our first of about 12 minke whales. We encountered our the 1st of 11 humpback whales 30 minutes later! We were able to get close to photograph and identify 6 humpbacks, while the other 5 were seen within a 800 yard radius around us as we left out last whale – we’d run out of time.  

What made this trip extra special was that the last whale we were close to (the 2016 calf of Nile) was a true survivor. This young male had been severely entangled in 2900 lbs. of fishing gear and was disentangled via a herculean 4 day effort (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/humpback-whale-disentangled-new-york-all-thanks-team-effort). We were the first vessel to encounter this whale last year 3 weeks after being freed.  We saw the extent of its injuries and were glad (as was all involved) to have seen it alive on August 19, 2020.  To see it again 364 days later only 4 nautical miles away from where we last saw it on August 2020 was special.  To see that the horrendous wounds have healed was even more special. Everyone onboard was elated!

Saturday August 21, 2021

Minke whale and ~100-120 short-beaked common dolphins!

So, what do you do on  the day before a hurricane is supposed to hit? Go looking for whales and dolphins, of course! The visibility was good, albeit the clouds and sky were gray, while the long, rolling 5’ ground swell was very comfortable.  Once again we found our first whale, another minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), right near Montauk Lighthouse.  We also saw a blow from a humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) ½ mile away, but that whale didn’t show up again.  We headed somewhat offshore to stay in deeper calmer waters. We found no other baleen whales, but were able to spend at least on hour with a large aggregation of about 100 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis).  The dolphins were amazing, with lots of mom and calf pairs, lots of porpoising, and jumping.  These were an aggregation of several social groups, and often some would come over to try and ride of bow.  We made no attempts to encourage this behavior, but even when moving slowly, the dolphins came to try and catch a lift in our bow wake.  The lucky people along the bow were able to hear these animals vocalize and communicate with one another. What an amazing experience to undergo.

We hope that you weather the storm well and hope to see you out there with us on future trips.

Wednesday August 25, 2021

Another multi-species day!

As we left the dock, a young gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)that we'd seen before was swimming around searching for food. Our trip on the oceans started out with a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) that just a few of us saw (we call that a "stinky minke").  We then found a small group (10) of inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and later encountered one large group (50) and another small group (10), about 70 in all.  In the interim we spent time up close with a truly "stinky" humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).  "Stinky" due to the mildly fetid, funky smell of its blow (perhaps due to a lung infection). Stinky humpback blows are and not that common but truly memorable.  The "bait" was abundant often near the sea floor (about 90 feet depth), we saw others blows in the distance, including a massive fin whale blow at least a mile further south, unfortunately we weren't able to fin it after we'd spent our time with the humpback. It  was a relatively calm day but warm day, with sea-surface temperatures in the low-mid 70's. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Another three species day, but a long one

The day started out with an Atlantic gray seal (Halichoerus grypus atlantica)feeding in the waters of Montauk Harbor right behind the Starship as we boarded passengers. 

Conditions were excellent as we headed out to the east where humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) had been spotted earlier in the day. We didn’t find that whale, but did find a group of inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), a good start. As we headed south west we came across a few minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and a much larger group of inshore bottlenose dolphins. Late in the trip, our way back in we found a humpback whale! This was a whale we’d fist seen back in early July. It was wonderful to see and made everyone happy, but we returned to the dock 40 minutes. So, it was a long trip but worthwhile.

Saturday September 4, 2021

Baleen whales, birds, bunker, and a bat!

What a great day to be on the water! The weather was absolutely gorgeous with unlimited visibility and calm seas. We spent the first hour cruising near shore in search of whales. Soon, a blow was spotted by one of our volunteers and we observed a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) casually swimming and diving in approximately 50 feet of water. Then things got exciting with a surprise breach in full view of passengers watching from the bow. Shoals of bunker (Atlantic menhaden) were visible at the surface in about 32 feet of water and the whale moved into shallower water to feed. We knew something extraordinary was about to happen when the fish began leaping from the water followed immediately by the lunge-feeding humpback. At this same time, a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) was spotted on the other side of our vessel and was either joined by a second minke or spotted again a moment later. The humpback eventually moved on and so did we, returning along the coast looking for other mammals. Although we did not find any along our path home, we did encounter three different species of shearwater (Great, Cory's, and Manx) characteristically shearing their way across the water, adding to a bird list that already included a northern gannet spotted earlier in the trip. We also had a brief view of a bat (unknown species). With such an amazing and beautiful day on the water and only one trip remaining for the season, it will be sad to say goodbye to summer but we thankfully have many happy memories to keep us warm.

Sunday September 5, 2021

Our last 2021 trip was a winner!

Our final trip for the 2021 season was anopther multi-species day that started, once again, with a large male gray seal in the harbor right behind the Viking Starship.

The conditions at sea were excellent: unlimited visibility, gray skies, and no sun glare. We headed west towards where we'd seen a humpback whale the day before. We found our humpback whale there too.Today's whale MTK.2021.07.28-04 has been seen by us 3 times over the past 5 weeks, a fine example of short-term site fidelity.  What a fine way to end this season with another view of one of our 28 humpbacks (including 16 new ones).

 

 


2020-2021 CRESLI SEAL WALKS AND MONITORING SESSION SIGHTINGS

All photos taken with 600mm lens from safe distances and did not disturb the seals

(2844 seal encounters in 46 trips) All photos taken with 600mm lens from safe distances and did not disturb the seals

Date

Type of trip

STATUS

Sunday November 08, 2020

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

8 Harbor seals hauled-out and 2 swimming PHOTOS

Monday November 09, 2020

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

2 harbor seals swimming

PHOTOS

Sunday November 15, 2020

SEAL WALK

3 Atlantic harbor seals on the far northeast end of the seal haulout sandbar in Moriches Bay (secondary haul-out site) and a lob-tailing humpback approximately 500 yards from shore on the ocean side at Cupsogue Beach during the

PHOTOS of seals and humpback

Sunday November 22, 2020

SEAL WALK 

Quick view of a large diving seal.  Could not ascertain species.

No photos

Friday November 27, 2020

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

36 harbor seals hauled-out on primary area, flushed into the water for unknown reason, the swam to secondary haul-out area far to the northeast

PHOTOS AND VIDEO 

Saturday November 28, 2020

SEAL WALK

Several harbor seals seen during an early monitoring session. ~20 harbor seals hauled-out on secondary haul-out area far to the northeast.

PHOTOS and VIDEO

Sunday, November 29, 2020

SEAL WALK

35 harbor seals hauled-out on primary area

PHOTOS and VIDEO

Thursday December 10, 2020

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

83 harbor seals hauled-out on primary area

PHOTOS and VIDEO

Sunday December 13, 2020

SEAL WALK

Several swimming harbor seals seen during an early monitoring session. ~30 harbor seals hauled-out on secondary haul-out area far to the northeast.

PHOTOS

Wednesday December 23, 2020

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

83 harbor seals hauled-out on primary area

VIDEO

PHOTOS

Saturday December 26, 2020

SEAL WALK

Several swimming harbor seals seen during an early monitoring session and during the seal walk

PHOTOS

Sunday December 27, 2020

SEAL WALK

Several swimming harbor seals seen during an early monitoring session. ~45 harbor seals hauled-out on secondary haul-out area far to the northeast.

PHOTOS

Friday January 1, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

~37 harbor seals (~25 hauled-out on secondary area, 2 on rocks, ~10 swimming)

PHOTOS

Saturday January 2, 2021

NYS DEC 1ST DAY HIKE

5 harbor seals swimming

PHOTOS

Wednesday January 6, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

171 seals (170 harbor seals and 1 gray seal) hauled out on the primary area 

PHOTOS

VIDEO

Saturday January 9, 2021

SEAL WALK

50 harbor seals hauled-out on primary area, 4 on rocks

PHOTOS

Sunday January 10, 2021

SEAL WALK

43 Atlantic harbor seals hauled-out on primary area. We watched as the approach of a duck hunting boat triggered all seals to enter the water.  Several hauled out again about 10 minutes later and the same vessel caused them to scatter.  The seals willrespond to the sounds of vessels that have disturbed them in the past.  Unfortunately, this particular vessel has flushed seals from the sandbar on multiple occasions. We can't wait for duck season to end. While the seals don;t necessarily respond to the sounds of gunshot, they do remember the sounds of vessels and react accordingly.

PHOTOS

Tuesday January 12, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

~10 harbor seals swimming

PHOTOS

Thursday January 14, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

22 Atlantic harbor seals, some new and others not seen in quite a while at Cupsogue Beach. Disturbances caused seals to only haulout on the far NE area of the sandbar. Swimming seals were near shore. 17 seals hauled out and 5 swimming.

PHOTOS

Thursday January 21, 2021

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

~7 harbor seals swimming. Once again, the expected haulout wasn't there. We assume that significant disturbance must have happened prior to our presence. By this date last year we had almost 1200 seal encounters in 14 trips.  So far for this season, we've only had 802 seal encounters in 22 trips. We surely hope that the some of the disturbances will end with the end of duck hunting season. We implore all to be vigilant about NOT DISTURBING RESTING SEALS. Give seals their distance! If they react to you in any way it's time for you to STOP what you're doing, DROP down to be less visible, and LEAVE 

PHOTOS

Saturday January 23, 2021

MONITORING SESSION and SEAL WALK

The recent trend of limited haulout numbers continues with just 6 seen prior to our seal walk. None were present during the seal walk.

PHOTOS

Sunday January24, 2021

MONITORING SESSION and SEAL WALK

6 harbor seal ( 2 on rocks and 4 swimming) seen prior to our seal walk. 6 harbor seals were seen swimming suring our walk.  On our way back, some of us were treated to views of a resting snowy owl

PHOTOS

Thursday February 4, 2021

MONITORING SESSION

186 harbor seals hauled out on the primary area 

PHOTOS

VIDEO

Saturday February 6, 2021

MONITORING SESSION and SEAL WALK

176 harbor seals hauled out on the primary area 

PHOTOS

Wednesday February 10, 2021

MONITORING SESSION 

68 harbor seals. 9 hauled out on rocks, 15 swimming, 44 hauled out on secondary are at the eastern end of the sandbar

PHOTOS

Wednesday February 17, 2021

MONITORING SESSION 

78 harbor seals hauled out on the primary area of the sandbar

PHOTOS

Saturday February 20, 2021

SEAL WALK 

43 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on sandbar in area used through 2006

PHOTOS

Sunday February 21, 2021

SEAL WALK 

65 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on sandbar in area used through 2006

PHOTOS

Wednesday February 24, 2021

SEAL WALK for Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library

195 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on sandbar in area used through 2006

PHOTOS

Saturday March 6, 2021

SEAL WALK

49 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out at two distinct regions of the sandbar. 29 at the far NNE end, and 20 at the now recently being reused 2006 area

PHOTOS

Sunday March 7, 2021

SEAL WALK

85 Atlantic harbor seals. 2 on rocks and 83 hauled out at the now recently being reused 2006 area

PHOTOS

Tuesday March 9, 2021

MONITORING SESSION 

134 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out at the now recently being reused 2006 area

PHOTOS

Saturday March 20, 2021

SEAL WALK

128 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out at the now recently being reused 2006 area

PHOTOS

Saturday March 21, 2021

SEAL WALK

12 Atlantic harbor seals swimming

PHOTOS

Wednesday March 23, 2021

MONITORING SESSION 

168 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out at primary haulout area

PHOTOS

VIDEO

Saturday April 3, 2021

SEAL WALK

153 seals including 132 Atlantic harbor seals and 1 juvenile Atlantic gray seal hauled out at the reused 2006 area, and 20 hauled out further east near the Moriches Coast Guard Station

PHOTOS

Sunday April 4, 2021

SEAL WALK

192 seals including 189 Atlantic harbor seals and 3 juvenile Atlantic gray seals hauled out at the reused 2006 area. We watched as they reacted a sound to the west, most of the seals turned to their left (west) and half entered the water, then the rest went in. Most seals headed to the inlet and about 60 swam to the tertiary haulout area nearer the Moriches Coast Guard station

PHOTOS

Sunday April 18, 2021

SEAL WALK

93 seals including 90 Atlantic harbor seals and 3 juvenile Atlantic gray seals hauled out at the reused 2006 area when we arrived. They were flushed into the water, but began to return within a few minutes. 11 minutes after being flushed,there were 69 seals (1 juvenile Atlantic gray seal and 62 Atlantic harbor seals hauled out on the sandbar with 6 harbor seals swimming). In about another 20 minutes they will be flushed again by a kayaker. KAYAKERS, STAY AWAY FROM RESTING SEALS!!

PHOTOS

Saturday April 24, 2021

SEAL WALK

An Atlantic gray seal pup and an Atlantic harbor seal juvenilePHOTOS

Sunday May 2, 2021

SEAL WALK

We weren't sure if the seals were still around. From a great distance, we saw an Atlantic gray seal pup move into the water. Slowly,as we walked to our viewing area (600 feet from the sand bar), we found that the seal had returned. Later it would ultimately be joined by 3 other Atlantic gray seal pups and 2 Atlantic harbor seal juveniles. Patience and quite observation led to our success.

PHOTOS


 2020 Whale Watch Naturalist's Blog

Saturday July 18, 2020

4 humpback whales and massive schools of Atlantic menhaden (bunker). Great way to start the season!

The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 24th consecutive season of whale watching trips just where we left off, i.e., finding whales. We had reports of whales that morning (seen from shore by our naturalist, Dr. Artie Kopelman, and heard in the fog aboard the Viking Starship that morning by the intrepid Viking Fleet mate, Joey Ferguson). We also had reports of dolphins west of town. Out we headed and within a short while we were past Montauk Light looking for cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). Shortly thereafter a fog bank rolled in and we continued on and listened for blows. Eventually the fog lifted and we found ourselves in the midst of many massive schools of bunker. Here we encountered feeding humpback whales. Two juveniles were photographed and we had brief glimpses of 2 others.

A wonderful start to the 2020 season.

  • 4 Humpback whales
  • 1 unidentified sea turtle
  • 4 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 16 Sanderlings
  • 20 Great Black-backed gulls
  • 2 Double-crested Cormorants

 

PHOTOS

Saturday July 25, 2020

3 humpback whales, 1 minke whale and more

Our 2nd trip of the 2020 season didn't let us down. We had reports of whales from several places and began our trip with a great plan. With excellent visibility and conditions, we found our first whale within 40 minutes from passing Montauk Light, a humpback. This whale was busy searching for food 100' down and would rise to the surface after a few minutes, blow 5-6 times and dive. We stayed with the whale until it tail slapped and we decided to head further. We headed ENE towards and found our 2nd whale about 1 hour later.  We'd seen it from ~1.5 miles away and when we got near the area,  it popped up just under our bowsprit. Luckily we were almost at idle speed. A minke and a thrird humpback joined us shortly thereafter.  This last whale had significant Orca raking scars on its dorsal fin and flukes. We encountered other species duringour travels including 3 Ocean Sunfish, 1 jumping White Marlin, about 40 Wilson's Storm Peterels, and about 40 Great Shearwaters

3 Humpback whales

1 Minke whale

3 Ocean sunfish

1 white marlin

40 Wilson's storm petrels

40 Great shearwaters

 

PHOTOS from 7/25/2020 trip

Saturday August 01, 2020

4 humpback whales - 18 and 10 consecutive breaches at the end of our trip! Nice way to end the afternoon.

Our 3rd trip of the 2020 season was one for the books. Again, we had reports of whales from several places and began our trip with a great plan to survey an area not far from Gurney's. Excellent visibility and conditions allowed us to see blows from really far. Our first stop was ~6nm (nautical miles) south of the Lighthouse, where we had seen blows from about 1.5 nm away.  Those whales were gone, so we headed west (2 nm) and found the first of 2 whales, one seen on the 7/18/2020 trip (MTK.2020.07.18-01). Our 2nd whale was one we had seen on the 7/25/2020 trip (MTK.2020.07.25-02). We also encountered an aggregation of about 100 Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal Stock (AKA inshore) bottlenose dolphins.

We had the priviledge of staying with these whales for over 2 hours, watching them dive for food at the sea floor, rising up 3-7 minutes later and resuming their dives.  Both whales we juveniles and both had signs of previous entanglements. One whale had a tuna lure hooked into the left splashguard region (side of the blow hole). We were ready to leave and the whales began breaching simultaneously, each one on each side of the vessel.  We stayed with MTK.2020.07.25-02 and it breached 18 times in 8 minutes, while MTK.2020.07.18-01 breached 10 times. Wow! The tubercles on the leading edge of a humpback's long pectoral flippers provide hydrodynamic lift and allow these whales to rise through the water column at steep angles without stalling, hence reducing the energy needed to breach. 

4 Humpback whales

100 Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal Stock (AKA inshore) bottlenose dolphins 

PHOTOS from 8/01/2020 trip

Saturday August 08, 2020

4 humpback whales - and 2 minkes.

Within 30 minutes of passing Montauk Lighthouse and within 10 minutes of the crew “on-station” to look in earnest for whales, we saw our first blows. Our 1st humpback was one we had seen last week as well about 8 nm (nautical miles) to the SSW and only about 4 nm from Montauk Lighthouse. This was the first of our 4 humpbacks and 2 minke whales of the day. Our 2nd humpback was 2 miles away at first and joined the other whale in feeding at depth on bunker. We saw massive bunker pods at the surface, but they were only the upper boundaries of giant 80’ thick plumes of bunker. Our minke whales joined in briefly. A while later, several miles away, we found our last 2 humpbacks

4 Humpback whales

2 Minke whales

1 unidentified sea turtle

4 Laughing Gulls

2 ring-billed Gulls

8 Herring Gulls

6 common terns

11 Cory’s Shearwaters

12 Great Shearwaters

Bird counts thanks to David Chernack

PHOTOS from 8/08/2020 trip

Wednesday August 12, 2020

3 Humpbacks and about 300 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory Common Bottlenose dolphins

WOW what a trip!

We had reports of whales around they Midway Buoy and within an hour we found out fist whale, a humpback we hadn’t seen before. A short while after staying with this whale, we came upon our first groups of NW Atlantic Norther Migratory (AKA “In-shore”) Common Bottlenose dolphins. At least 3 groups interacting and seemingly driving massive groups of prey.  The groups dolphins would work together, with some driving forward and others turning to produce vortex-like field which formed a large circular slick.  The dolphins would converge and chaos would occur. Our second groups of dolphins, over 180 of them joined in the fray. Were they feeding? We never saw them with prey in their mouths? We they mating? This we did see.  So about 300 dolphins did this for nearly 2 hours.

Then we found our second humpback, another new one for us. It was breaching, followed by the typical flipper slapping. 20 minutes and a total of 18 breaches, interspersed with flipper slapping bouts. We had to head back to the dock and passed another humpback on the way in  but couldn’t stop.  Well we hope to see it again.

3 humpbacks

300 300 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory Common Bottlenose dolphins

2 Manx Shearwaters

10 Great Shearwaters

10 Cory’s Shearwaters

1 confirmed Scopoli’s Shearwater

PHOTOS from the 8/12/2020 trip

Wednesday August 19, 2020

Humpbacks and more Common Bottlenose dolphins

A special day for many reasons

As usual, we were headed to where we seen whales on our last trip. We were lucky enough to encounter a very special whale, Nile’s 2016 calf.

Three weeks ago this 4 year-old calf was found severely entangled in 3900 pounds of cable and line about 10 miles out of New York Harbor. He had just enough slack to allow him to surface in breath. It took the disentanglement teams three days to get him out. Our sighting of this juvenile whale with the first since he was disentangled. The disentanglement was a joint effort of many institutions, they’ve been notified of our sighting and are elated! He is scarred severely but is feeding and seems to be moving quite well we have our fingers crossed. By the way, we also saw him in 2018. Read about the disentanglement here

Other humpback whales and minke whales were seen, but only three humpbacks were photographed on this trip including NYC0085 (also seen last year) and a new whale we call MTK.2020.08.19-04.

As in last trip, we also encountered inshore bottlenose dolphins, but this time in small groups. Maybe a total of 120 that were working to catch prey and we saw mating too. It was a special day and we hope for the best for Nile’s 2016 calf.

5 humpbacks

1 minke

100-120 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory Common Bottlenose dolphins

2 Manx Shearwaters

~10 Great Shearwaters

~13 Cory’s Shearwaters

PHOTOS from the 8/19/2020 trip

Saturday August 22, 2020

5 Humpbacks and about 60 Common Bottlenose dolphins

Today's trip couldn't have started out better, with a humpback whale in Block Island Sound before we even made it to the ocean! This was a small humpback, about 24 feet (7.3 meters), probably less than 1 year old, by itself about 1 nautical mile NNW of Montauk Point. We stayed with this whale for a short while and then headed out to find others.

It wasn't long before we found Nile’s 2016 calf again. We stayed with this 4 year old malefor some time and were able to get additional photos documenting his injuries. As we did a few days ago, we shared these photos with the Center for Coastal Studies Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) personnel and others and are glad to hear that his wounds are healing well.

4 other humpback whales and 1 minke whale were seen.  As in last trip, we also encountered inshore bottlenose dolphins, but this time in even smaller groups.

5 humpbacks

1 minke

60 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory Common Bottlenose dolphins

1 Sooty Shearwater 

4 Great Shearwaters

6 Cory’s Shearwaters

12 Laughing Gulls

24 Great Blackback Gulls

20 Common Terns

1 Forster's Tern

12 Double-crested Cormorants

1 Great Egret

2 Chimney Swifts

1 American Redstart

Bird count by Patrician Aitken

PHOTOS from the 8/22/2020 trip

Wednesday August 26, 2020

Whales and dolphins! 40 minutes of inverted lob-tailing by 1 humpback 

A few hours before our trip, Dr. Artie Kopelman (CRESLI president and senior scientist/naturalist) observe several humpbacks from shore at the western end of Montauk. High winds from the NNW helped us to decide to head west to look for whales. Right near Montauk Point we encountered 2 whales, a minke and a humpback. The humpback was diving for 9 minutes at a stretch, and the minke was almost impossible to see . After 3 minutes with these whale, we continued westward to find a small group of bottlenose dolphins. We ultimately turned to have the wind behind, and shortly later, we found a humpback we'd see on 8/19/2020 and 8/18/2019, namely NYC0084. In 2019, it was breaching, today (8/25/2020), it was lob-tailing for at least 40 minutes, almost non-stop. 

Lob-tailing, breaching, flipper slapping are incredible to see and hear. These behaviors use up lots of energy. Why do humpbacks exhibit these behaviors? Well, they serve many purposes, from helping to remove epibionts ("hitch-hiking organisms living on the skin), to non-vocal communication. Cetaceans are dependent upon sound for communication of long and short distances. This whale might have been signaling others about the massive quantities of prey in the water column.  Let's hope so.

2 humpbacks

1 minke

15 inshore bottlenose

1 Great Shearwater

1 Sooty Shearwater

2 Cory's Shearwaters

PHOTOS from the 8/26/2020 trip available here

Wednesday September 2, 2020

Breaching, lob-tailing, flipper slapping humpback and more!

Our 9th trip of 2020 was difficult at first, but ultimately it did not disappoint. Just as in the past few trips, a small humpback would blow and dive, with dive times over 10 minutes long. We stayed with this whale and a few inshore bottlenose dolphins but decided to head off and search elsewhere. It took a bit but just before 4PM in the distance (2 nautical miles) we saw a humpback lob-tailing (slamming its tail on the water) over and over again. We reached it and it continued lob-tailing, the whale eventually rolling onto its back and began flipper slapping, also repeatedly. In a short while, it began to breach repeatedly, interspersed with flipper slapping and logging (resting). Wow, what a wonderfully array of humpback behaviors to see. This whale in MTK.2019.07.31-01, a whale we saw on 7/31/19 1.34 nm ESE of where we saw it today.

2 humpbacks

15 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory (AKA inshore) Common bottlenose dolphins

1 Great Shearwater

 

PHOTOS from the 9/02/2020 trip available to view and can be purchased via this link

 

Saturday September 5, 2020

Another amazing trip with humpbacks breaches and peduncle (tail) throws!

It was another great day of whale watching. Calms seas greeted us as we headed out past the Montauk Lighthouse.  Soon after, we came upon a small humpback giving use may views as it was feeding close to shore as there were Atlantic Menhaden (commonly called bunker) everywhere.  After everyone had plenty of views and pictures of this whale we headed south in search of more whales.  We came across our second humpback of the day giving us some blows and not much else but we could see another humpback off in the distant putting on quite a show with lots of splashing.  As we got closer, we had great views of our third humpback of the day with full-body breaching and lots of peduncle throws.  Memory cards and cellphone certainly were filled up today.

3 humpbacks

1 Great Shearwater

PHOTOS from the 9/05/2020 trip available to view and can be purchased via this link

Sunday September 6, 2020

Oh my, 60 bottlenose dolphins  and 9 humpbacks in al!

It was a little bouncy as we headed out in search of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). We headed directly to where we had seen the whales yesterday, but we couldn't find them at first and we headed to another area.  It took some time, but we decided to head NNE the eyes of Captain David Marmeno found a whale about 2.3 nautical miles (nm) from where yesterday's whales were. Once we found our first whale, we began seeing MANY more. We encountered one of Saturday's whales and stayed with and photographed 3 others within 1.1 square miles. We also encountered multiple groups of inshore bottlenose dolphins, about 60 individuals in all. On our way back to Montauk, we kept seeing more blows from 5 more whales within 1 nm in every direction but not directly in front of us. We wish we had more time.  We will try again on Saturday September 12,2020 

4 photographed and 5 others seen

60 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory (AKA inshore) Common bottlenose dolphins

2 Cory's Shearwaters

1 Great Shearwater

PHOTOS from the 9/06/2020 trip available to view and can be purchased via this link

 

Sunday September 13, 2020

Humpbacks, dolphins, and shearwaters! Oh my!

Our last 2020 trip continued our perfect season (100% success). Once again, our first humpback was a very small and elusive one, surfacing for a single blow and submerging for 9-11 minutes. We saw it fluke, but were never able to get photos of this whale. We headed on our way and encountered about 100 inshore bottlenose dolphins. Heading further east, we found our next whale, a juvenile humpback we'd seen back on 7/25/2020. We met up with another group of about 45 inshore bottlenose dolphins before coming across another humpback, one we'd originally seen on 7/31/2019, and again on 9/2/2020. The prey items in the water column were often very dense and either extended throughout the water, or hung to the bottom.  We saw more shearwaters than we'd seen in a while, often circling above the surfacing whales.

3 humpbacks

145 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory (AKA inshore) Common bottlenose dolphins

12 Cory's Shearwaters

3 Great Shearwaters

1 Sooty Shearwater

PHOTOS from the 9/13/2020 trip available to view and can be purchased via this link


2019-2020 Cupsogue Seal Walk Reports


  •  


     

Date

Status

Type of trip


Saturday, November 23, 2019

5 Harbor seals swimming

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Saturday, December 7,  2019

90 harbor seals hauled-out on main sandbar, including some old-timers back for their 16th year

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Sunday, December 8, 2019

70 seals seen at 8:30 AM were spooked off the haulout by a slow moving vessel within 2 minutes.  By the time we arrived at 10:00 only about 10 were seen swimming

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Monday, December 17, 2019

96 harbor seals hauled-out on main sandbar,

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Saturday, December 21, 2019

103 seals were hauled out on the main sandbar during an early monitoring session, but once again had been spooked off the haulout while we were away.  When we arrived at 10:00 only 8 hauled out rocks. PHOTOS UNAVAILABLE

SEAL WALK

Sunday, December 22, 2019

113 harbor seals were hauled out on the main sandbar during our early monitoring session. Unbelievably, yet again, they had been flushed from the haulout by the time we returned 2 hours later.

Surprisingly, we found 30 seals hauled out on a distant sandbar northeast of the usual haulout (secondary haul-out site).  With patience, we were ultimately watch 30 additional harbor seals haul back onto the main haulout site!

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

127 harbor seals were hauled out on the main sandbar

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Sunday, January 05, 2020

102 harbor seals were hauled out on the main sandbar

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Friday, January 10, 2020

25 harbor seals hauled out on their secondary region of the sandbar, utilized when disturbed from the main area

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Sunday, January 12, 2020

73 harbor seals (70 on seals were hauled out on the main sandbar and 3 on rocks)

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Saturday, January 18, 2020

87 harbor seals (78 on seals were hauled out on the main sandbar and 9 on rocks)

PHOTOS

 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

64 harbor seals (61 on main sandbar and 3 on rocks)

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

137 harbor seals (130 on main sandbar and 7 on rocks)

Prior to a seal walk for the Saxon Middle School of Patchogue, @DrArtieK photographed and took video of 137 harbor seals hauled out (130 on the sandbar and 7 on the rocks) at Cupsogue. With the school group, we stopped at the newer parking area just to get a glimpse of the seals from a distance. We watched in disbelief as an airplane (C-FBKB of Kenn Borek Air Limited) flew over the seals and spooked all into the water. The plane continued to fly over the area repeatedly and we were able to get clear photos to send to the authorities

PHOTOS AND VIDEO

SEAL WALK FOR SAXTON MIDDLE SCHOOL (PATCHOGUE)

Friday, January 24, 2020

17 harbor seals (12 on rocks and 5 in water)

Prior to this seal monitoring session, @DrArtieK noticed a guy in a wet-suit eastward down the road to the parking with his dog (light colored lab). Dr. K. had a bad feeling that the seals were gone. The man got in his car and drove down to the area where we take people to view seals, he loaded his paddleboard and drove past. Of course the seals were not on the sandbar and about 12 were on the rocks with about another 5 swimming. Dr. K. didn’t see him spook the seals, but knew he had done so (he's done it repeatedly).

Harassment is defined by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) essentially as any action that causes a marine mammal to significantly alter its behavior. Folks, if you ever see someone purposefully or regularly causing harassment, please try to capture it on video and contact me (ahkopelman@cresli.org). I will share with you the contact information for NOAA Fisheries and NYSDEC Police enforcement agents.

We are so lucky to live in a place where we have 19 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and 5 species of seals (pinnipeds).

Let's share the waters with them in peace.

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Sunday, January 26, 2020

105 harbor seals on main sandbar

 

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Sunday, February 02, 2020

157 harbor seals on main sandbar

 

PHOTOS and VIDEO

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Saturday, February 08, 2020

31 harbor seals hauled out during a monitoring session prior to the scheduled seal walk.  These seals were exceedingly nervous and most appeared to have recently left the water. The behavior was most-likely the results of prior harassment. 20 harbor seals were hauled-out when we arrived later for the seal walk

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Sunday, February 09, 2020

60-80 harbor seals hauled out during a monitoring session prior to the scheduled seal walk.  Just before we were ready to document the haulout with photos, a single-engine propeller plane flew south of the haulout area just over the ocean.  The moment these seals heard this plane in the distance, all of them jumped into the water. Once again, this behavior was most-likely the results of prior harassment by the same aircraft.  16 harbor seals retuned to the sandbar 25 minutes later. 1.5 hours later, 6 harbor seals were eventually found swimming near the near-shore rocky haulout area during our seal walk after 25 minutes after we arrived.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

SEAL WALK

Monday, February 10, 2020

78 harbor seals on main sandbar

 

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

133 harbor seals on main sandbar

 

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

Sunday, February 16, 2020

142 harbor seals on main sandbar

 

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Monday, February 17, 2020

177 seals (176 harbor seals and 1 juvenile gray seal) hauled out during a monitoring session prior to a scheduled seal walk for Stony Brook University MAR395.  Once again, a single-engine propeller plane flew south of the haulout area just over the ocean.  The moment these seals heard this plane AGAIN in the distance, all of them jumped into the water.  

 

This time we were able to capture the plane's # and though social media were able to find out whom to contact regarding the plane owners and the flying school who's training flights have been causing the seals to flush. We hope that theyv are able to effect changes in where or when they fly.

 

PHOTOS (before and after)

SEAL WALK for Marine Mammals Research Techniques course at Stony Brook Southampton

Saturday, February 22, 2020

138 harbor seals hauled out

 

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Sunday, February 23, 2020

110 harbor seals hauled out

 

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK

Monday, February 24, 2020

124 seals (123 harbor seals and 1 juvenile gray seal)

 

PHOTOS

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Thursday, March 5, 2020

201 seals (200 harbor and 1 juvenile gray) prior to a walk for the Greenport Elementary School 5th grade.

 

Amazingly there were 218 seals (217 harbor and 1 juvenile gray) when we arrived

 

PHOTOS

SEAL WALK FOR GREENPORT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 5TH GRADE

 Saturday, March 7, 2020

30 harbor seals 

Wild, windy, and high water levels 

 

PHOTOS

 SEAL WALK

 Sunday, March 8, 2020

182 seals hauled out (1 gray seal and 181 harbor seals) prior and during our seal walk. Once again, as we watched, a private vessel got too close to the seals and 94 seals were spooked into the water. Come one folks, we can do better.

The incident was captured on video and the vessels ID # was sent to the authorities for violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act

 SEAL WALK

 Sunday, March 16, 2020

30 seals swimming

 

 SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, March 18, 2020

192 seals hauled out (1 gray seal and 191 harbor seals). 

 

 SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, March 24, 2020

152 seals hauled out (1 gray seal and 151 harbor seals). 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, March 27, 2020

149 seals hauled out (1 gray seal and 148 harbor seals). 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Saturday, April 4, 2020

104 seals hauled out (1 gray seal on the ocean side and 148 harbor seals on the sandbar). 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, April 12, 2020

3 harbor seals seals swimming in Moriches Bay and 1 gray seal pup hauled out on the ocean side

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Thursday, April 16, 2020

76 seals hauled out: 4 gray seal pups and 70 harbor seals on the sandbar in the bay. On the ocean side, 1 sub-adult gray seal and 1 gray seal pup hauled out

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Tuesday, April 28, 2020

8 seals hauled out: 3 gray seal pups and 5 harbor seals on the sandbar in the bay. 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, May 3, 2020

28 seals hauled out: 3 gray seal pups and 25 harbor seals on the sandbar in the bay. 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

 Sunday, May 7, 2020

25 seals hauled out: 2 gray seal pups and 23 harbor seals on the sandbar in the bay. 

 

SEAL MONITORING SESSION

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2020

456 gray seals and ~50 harbor seals on the cruise to Plum Island, Great Gull Island, and Little Gull Island

PHOTOS

Seal Cruise


 2019 WHALE WATCH REPORTS

 July 3, 2019

We started out just where we left off, still finding cetaceans on every trip - ~70 short-beaked common dolphins.

What a gorgeous day to be on the water. While it took sometime before we found interesting animals, we did indeed find all kinds of critters. A small basking shark was our first aquatic vertebrate and the first seen by many of our passengers. Shortly thereafter we found a small ocean sunfish that gave us great views of its swimming and jumping capability. A short while later we found our first aggregation of about 30-40 short beaked common dolphins. This group was loaded with lots of, you guessed it, small dolphins. moms with calves and loads of juveniles. 

Many of the adult dolphins were engaged in mating, a rare sight for most people. Perhaps that's why the young ones were all together. Our second aggregation of 30 dolphins were similarly "engaged." We also were able to find Wilson's storm petrels, Great shearwaters, Cory's shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters, and Manx shearwaters

  • 70 Short-beaked common dolphins
  • 1 Basking shark
  • 1 Ocean sunfish
  • 25 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 15 Great shearwaters
  • 2 Manx shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater
  • 1 Cory's shearwater
  • PHOTOS

July 5, 2019

Today's Viking Fleet/CRESLI Whale watch started off with a dramatic fog bank that sweep over our boat as we were leaving the Montauk area. The thick fog soon fell away and we progressed through calm seas and sunny blue skies for the rest of the day.

After reaching a point about 12 miles from Montauk point we encountered the first of the Minke whales. They were apparently feeding on the thick schools of small fish below us. The adults and children aboard got many looks at these small baleen whales as they spent time around the boat. We continued along at a leisurely pace and stopped several times as we encountered several small groups that day, for a total of 12 whales seen. 

Many small seabirds, Wilson's Storm Petrels, where dipping into the seas around us for food too. A sharp-eyed passenger also spotted a young Loggerhead sea turtle alongside the boat.

  • 12 Minke whales 
  • 1 Loggerhead sea turtle 
  • 25 Wilson Storm Petrels
  • 1 Great shearwater
  • PHOTOS

July 7, 2019

 

What a special day we had – our first humpbacks of the season. The day was sunny, breezy, and chilly enough in the shade to make most of us wear sweatshirts, in other words a welcomed relief from the heat and humidity. We heard reports of whales off the Nappeague stretch, as well as further offshore. The NE winds helped us decide to head westward and we found whales off Ditch Plains. We first encountered a really small humpback, perhaps a calf or yearling. It was busy with searching for food on extremely long submersions. Later a larger humpback appeared and we stayed with it long enough to get excellent fluke shots and see some typical humpback behaviors. As we followed this whale to eastward for several miles, while doing so we had a brief encounter with a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and an ocean sunfish. A nice day in every way!

  • 2 Humpback whales
  • 1 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
  • 1 ocean sunfish
  • PHOTOS

July 10, 2019

We left on a warm afternoon, looking forward to relief from the heat and to find whales. Both were accomplished. As soon as we got past Montauk lighthouse, we felt relief from the stifling heat on land. We had reports of whales inshore around Montauk and Cap’t. Dave saw a whale in the morning right where we had seen one on Sunday. The hazy fog and limited visibility made our task difficult. We eventually decided to head offshore into areas with more visibility.  There we were able to find our 1st fin whale of 2019, a young (no more than 40’ long)  and hungry one.

It was spending 9-13 minutes down feeding at 60-80 feet beneath the surface.  We got great views and stayed with this whale until it was time to head back in.  we came back late, but it was worth it.

1 fin whale

1 ocean sunfish

2 Cory's shearwaters

  • 20 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 1 Great shearwater
  • PHOTOS

July 12, 2019

We left Montauk harbor today with beautiful blue skies and good visibility to search for whales and had just enough of a swell to give the passengers an exciting "ride". We cruised along the south shore of Montauk and enjoyed great views of the bluffs and hills. As usual we saw some pelagic seabirds, either skimming the waters or diving for fish and although we were several miles offshore we also had many butterflies fly past the ship. We then came upon a Minke whale, about 5 miles south of Montauk town. It surfaced several times in a few locations around the boat. Since there were patches of small fish under the ship we assume it was actively feeding. After leaving that whale we continued to cruise towards the southeast towards where we had recently seen whales, but had no luck with for the rest of this day.

  • Totals:
  • 1 minke whale
  • 1 ocean sunfish
  • 10 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 4 Great shearwater
  • 4 Cory's shearwaters
  •  
  • PHOTOS

July 14, 2019

Our first multiple humpback trip. Once again, we escaped the heat on land to find whales in water that was comfortably in the mid to upper 60's. We began looking as soon as we traveled past Montauk light. Within a few minutes we found our first of 4 humpbacks. This one was intent on long feeding fives of prey near the surface and traveling due east without changing course. We got some nice views and ID photos and headed west to find more. Did we ever.

We found one humpback lunge-feeding on bunker (Atlantic menhaden) with an occasional breach thrown in, as usual - spectacular to observe and hard to capture. We stayed with this animal for quite some time. This humpback was oblivious to us and once lunge-fed within a foot or two of our port bow.

Eventually we needed to head back, but were stopped when we encountered 2 humpbacks logging (resting at the surface) together. At first, from afar we thought it might be a mom and calf, but these animals were almost the same size (one just slightly larger) - so not a cow/calf pair, but clearly an associated pair. One of the pair rolled over and flipper slapped for a bit. What a great trip - so many typical humpback behaviors, and so many people on board who had never seen a whale, let along 4 humpback whales, a blue shark, and an ocean sunfish.

  • Totals:
  • 4 humpback whales
  • 1 blue shark
  • 1 ocean sunfish
  • 2 Wilson's storm petrels
  • PHOTOS

July 17, 2019

Well, it was bound to happen. After 29 consecutive trips with whales or dolphins since July 2017, we were unable to find them today. The haze and occasional limited visibility made it difficult to spot then from a distance. We covered 45 nautical miles in our search but no whales or dolphins. There was bait, bunker, and a few pelagic birds, even an unidentified shark, and an ocean sunfish, but no cetaceans. We will try again on Friday 7/19/19.

One plus was the cool sea surface temperatures that kept us in sweatshirts, while folks were sweltering on land. Another plus was seeing a submarine heading out to sea.

  • Totals:
  • 1 unidentified shark
  • 1 ocean sunfish
  • 11 Wilson's storm petrels

July 19, 2019

We are back on track! Found bottlenose dolphins and fin whales!!

Today we left Montauk with clearing skies and a cool breeze. We traveled south and within an hour saw some splashes in front of us. This turned out to be a group of dolphins. These were the first bottlenose dolphins we have seen this year and they crossed right in front of our bow. The group stayed very tightly together as they moved around the boat, sometimes "porpoising" out of the water. We stayed with them for some time before moving onward.

After another 45 minutes we spotted our first whale; a large fin whale. Fin whales are the second largest of the whales and second largest animal on the planet. We watched it as it continually dove down (we assume to feed on the thick bands of small baitfish under the boat) and surfaced with that long conical blow so characteristic of fin whales.

We had a birding group with us today and we were pleased they were able to see several pelagic bird species that can only be seen at sea, including 3 different shearwater species gliding along just above the waves.

After proceeding south from Montauk we came upon 2 more fin whales, again feeding through thick bands of baitfish, about 50 feet below the surface. We finished our day cruising back along the south shore, close in to the cliffs and bluffs, before rounding the point and returning to Montauk.

Totals:

  • 5 bottlenose dolphins
  • 3 finback whales 
  • 12 Wilson's storm petrels
  • 2 Great shearwaters
  • 4 Cory's shearwaters
  • 1 Sooty shearwater
  •  
  • PHOTOS

July 21, 2019

Once again we headed out to find whales, and as soon as we got past Montauk Lighthouse and onto the Atlantic Ocean, we were out of the heat! Sea surface temperatures were in the upper 60’s, a welcome relief. 

We headed west towards where humpbacks had been for the past few days and in a short while found one. This 40’ (-13 m) whale, probably weighed 45,000 lbs (-20 metric tons), and was logging (resting at the surface) just as it had done one week earlier. We spent some time with this whale be heading further west. At the Napeague Stretch, we headed offshore for a few miles, then began heading eastward. We saw a whale a few miles ahead, got up to it; it was the same whale we’d seen logging. Not logging now! This whale was doing “tail throws.” Over and over, we lost count at about 15 times. What an amazing site for all of us. We eventually left the whale and headed home.

  • Totals:
  • 1 humpback whale
  • Herring Gulls
  • Great Black-backed Gulls
  • Common terns
  • ~30 plovers (unknown species) in 2 groups flying southwest about 2 miles from shore
  • PHOTOS

July 24, 2019

When we start our whale watch trip with unlimited visibility on sunny dry afternoon, we have great expectations. We hadn’t even gotten past the Lighthouse when we found a massive aggregation of inshore bottlenose dolphins – over 100! We watched and followed as they were chasing their prey, driving them into tight circles and then diving. Adults, juveniles, and new born calves were all around us. What a beautiful sight. We left them to continue their journey and ours, and headed towards where we had been seeing humpbacks whales for the past few weeks. We found a good sized humpback and stayed with it, observed it, photographed its dorsal fin and flukes for ID purposes. We were in neutral and ready to leave but the whale had other plans, it decided to swim right up next to us, along the port sight, then under us, and come back on the starboard side. Needless to say, we couldn’t move until the whale moved away. Nobody complained.

We headed a bit further offshore and began to encounter pelagic birds, rafts of Cory’s shearwaters, a few Great shearwaters, and a few aggregations of Wilson’s storm petrels too. Shortly thereafter we found a pair of whales swimming together. As we found a few weeks ago, these whales, staying right next to each other were not mom and calf, as you might expect, but of similar size (about 36 feet (11 meters). We were able to stay with them for quite some time and got great photos, videos, and recollections. Again, almost nobody on board had seen whales or dolphins before and were just as happy as can be.

  • Totals:
  • 115 Bottlenose dolphins
  • 3 humpback whales
  • 25 Cory’s shearwaters
  • 2 Great shearwaters
  • 10 Wilson’s storm petrels
  • 1 immature Northern gannet
  • PHOTOS

July 26, 2019

Today's CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watch left Montauk Harbor with clear blue skies and calm seas. Cruising for less than an hour southeast of Montauk we came upon 2 groups of dolphins. There were about 15 bottlenose dolphins all told and we watched them for 45 minutes as they socialized around the boat. These dolphins all were side by side as they put on an energetic display. They were splashing, spy-hopping, "lob-tailing" and did back flips in the water. Their behavior was all about social bonding and perhaps establishing dominance within the group. Our passengers took some great photos of the dolphins with the cliffs of Montauk in the background.

We decided to move on and went further offshore. We continued to pass many "baitballs" of small fish the whales like to eat; menhaden at the surface, being pursued by larger fish. Losing sight of land we came upon 2 whales of 2 different species. Both a minke whale and a fin whale were feeding in the area. At first they were hard to follow as they came up for a quick breath and immediately went down to feed on the very thick schools of small fish. We were patient and were rewarded with some good looks at the fin whale. About 50 feet long, it began to stay on the surface and moved slowly along as it performed a series of several blows. We watched it for several of these series fairly close. The whale finally came up very close and headed directly for our boat. It was right at our stern when it made a final blow that rose above us and then dove underneath the boat for a spectacular "final good-bye"!

  • Totals 
  • 15 Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Fin Whale
  • 1 Minke whale
  • 1 Ocean Sunfish
  • 5 Wilson Storm Petrels
  • 30 Common Terns
  • 20 Black Backed Gull
  • PHOTOS

July 28, 2019

We had a long trip today with a sold out boat. We escaped the heat right away as we turned east at the jetty. Found 2 small groups of Bottlenose dolphins and a small ocean sunfish just west of the Lighthouse. We search nearshore and offshore, didn’t find much else until we began to get head back toward Montauk. At 6:30 we saw something flash off in the distance and the blow of a humpback about 2 miles ahead of us. It was doing inverted lob-tailing, partial breaching, tails throws, etc. and as we got closer a small fishing boat ran super-fast right to the whale, stopped way too close. The whale reacted by diving and tail-throwing once – then took off to the southwest, with 5-6 minute down times and just surfacing a few blows each time and heading away. Had that vessel not harassed the whale, it would have continued its behaviors. It was spectacular to see this active whale, but to see it chased down by those jerks in the small boat was upsetting to all. All-in-all, a long but successful trip. Even though we got back at 8:10 PM, people loved it. BOATERS, REMEMBER TO NEVER CHASE DOWN WHALES! GIVE WHALES THEIR SPACE!

  • Totals 
  • 10 Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Humpback Whale
  • 1 Ocean Sunfish
  • 3 Wilson Storm Petrels
  • 1 Great Shearwater
  • Common Terns
  • Great Black-Backed Gulls
  • Herring Gulls
  •  
  • PHOTOS

July 31, 2019

Once again, we left the sweltering heat and cooled off almost immediately after leaving the harbor (sea surface temperatures have been in the upper 60's to low 70's for a while). We headed towards an area where dolphins had been seen earlier, but they had move on, as nomadic dolphins almost always do. We then headed off towards one of our known whale feeding areas, and there we encountered 2 large humpbacks swimming, diving, and obviously feeding together, we also see a small pod of bottlenose dolphins. We see a third humpback. The 3rd whale heads North and we stay with the pair. Their prey are in bands from the surface to 50' below, and they're spending feeding below and occasionally defecating at the surface. One of the whales is a known whale from the Gulf of Maine, Komodo, the 2007 calf of Rune, the other remains to be identified. We headed in search of the 3rd humpback but were unsuccessful but eventually found a minke whale, just before heading back to the dock. An amazing time for everyone.???????

  • Totals 
  • 15 Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 3 Humpback Whales
  • 1 Minke Whale
  • 5 Wilson Storm Petrels
  • PHOTOS

August 04, 2019

What do you get when you have unlimited visibility, flat seas, and good eyes? Lots of whales. Shortly after heading out past the Lighthouse, we spot our first whale, a minke whale. They are relative small baleen whales and this one was not only small, but also entangled in fishing gear. The gear was loosely wrapped, but still obviously having an effect. The Coast Guard was notified, they in turn notified the Center for Coastal Studies

Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team. CRESLI sent photos and all folks are asked to keep an eye out (seehttps://drartiek-cresli.smugmug.com/CRESLI-2019-Whale-Watches/2019-08-04-Montauk-Whale-Watch/i-VsXTmxz/A for a photo). All too sad to see, but we were glad to help. We continued on our way and found our first of 5 humpbacks about 30 minutes later. We began to see blows in many directions and were ultimately able get close to photograph others. Very nice to see our first mom and calf of this summer. As the day progressed were saw more, including the same tail-throwing whale that we’d seen on 7/14 and 7/21, and it threw its tail once this trip too. The whales were busy eating and we were able to get a quick glimpse of a fast moving finback and another minke. When we headed back in, we looked behind us and found blows all over – I guess we know where to go on Wednesday

  • Totals:
  • 2 Minke Whales
  • 1 Finback Whale
  • 5 Humpback Whales
  • 5 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
  • 1 Immature Northern Gannet
  • PHOTOS

August 7, 2019

  • 2 minke whales
  • 2 humpback whales
  • PHOTOS

August 9, 2019

  • 3 Humpback whales
  • 18 bottlenose dolphins
  • PHOTOS

August 14, 2019 

  • 1 finback whale
  • 2 humpback whales
  • PHOTOS

August 16, 2019

It was a good day for a whale watch with great visibility and clearing skies as the CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watch left Montauk harbor. After some time we spotted a tall blow in the distance. As we closed we saw it was a fin whale. This lone animal was about 40 feet in length, not large for these whales. It remained in this one area with a regular series of 4 surface breaths and then dives down, most likely to feed on the small fish our sonar saw close to the bottom. We got some nice looks at this animal as we stayed with it for some time. After continuing our search we discovered another species of whale, a young humpback. It was swimming slowly at the surface, sometimes "logging", and we all got some nice looks. As we continued on our search we saw a breach in the distance as a whale leapt from the water and so the boat went to investigate. This turned out to be a Minke whale, the smallest of the rorqual whales. After another trip where we hit the 3 species "whale trifecta" we headed back to harbor.

  • Totals
  • 1 Humpback Whale
  • 1 Minke Whale
  • 1 Fin Whale
  • 13 Wilson Storm Petrels
  •  
  • PHOTOS

August 18, 2019

We left Montauk today with clearing skies and very calm seas. There was a report of a humpback whale a short distance from Montauk Point and we went looking for that whale first. After 30 minutes it proved easy to see as the humpback was breaching in the distance and creating huge white splashes of water. We approached this young animal and were treated to several bouts of breaching. It lunged its entire body length out of the water over and over - for a remarkable 30 plus breaches. In between breaching (and delighting the passengers) the whale stayed lounging on the surface and continually "flipper-slapped" the water, creating a sharp "crack" sound with each hit. 

After spending some time with this charismatic whale we continued our journey and spotted a minke whale close in front of our boat. We came upon a few other humpback whales, one after the other, saw another breach, and spent some time with those whales.

Suddenly 2 bottlenose dolphins swam up to the boat, with one leaping or "porpoising" out of the water. We were running out of time, after such a full day, and headed back to Montauk, with a brief look at yet another humpback whale along the way.

  • Totals
  • 4 Humpback Whales
  • 2 Minke Whales
  • 2 Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Sooty Shearwater
  • 1 Wilson Storm Petrel
  • 3 Greater Shearwaters
  •  
  • PHOTOS

August 23, 2019

What can you say about a trip where we saw 11 humpback whales, 2 other whale species and dolphins!

The trip started with cloudy skies and great visibility. We spotted whales agin within an hour of leaving Montauk and then usually had more than one in sight all day. Cruising southeast of Montauk we spotted the blows of humpback whales and watched them making short dives in shallow, 50 foot, water to feed on the baitfish below. One humpback made a spectacular, full body, breach and then thrilled the passengers with some flipper slapping for some time. We continued to see humpbacks throughout the area and then spotted 2 minke whales. One of the minkes popped-up about 10 feet from the boat. A group of about 15 bottlenose dolphins, the inshore type, played around the boat for awhile, to the delight of the children aboard. This day ended with whales all around the boat, humpbacks, a fin whale and a minke. After a humpback treated us to some tail slapping on the surface we were out of time and sadly had to head back home.

  • Totals
  • 11 Humpback Whales
  • 15 Bottlenose Dolphins
  • 1 Fin Whale
  • 2 Minke Whales
  • 3 Cory Shearwaters
  •  
  • PHOTOS

August 28, 2019

What started out as a cloudy and someone rainy trip turned into a productive day of whale watching. After less than an hour we spotted some big splashes in the distance- there was a whale breaching and flipper slapping. Unfortunately by the time we got to the area, with the overcast background, we were unable to find the whale. We continued on our way and suddenly came upon 2 humpback whales and 18 bottlenose dolphin. There was a lot of surface bait fish and the whales were feeding.The dolphins came into our area in 2s and 3s until there was a big group. They swam around the feeding whales for some time and some passengers got some special pictures with a whale and dolphin in the same photo! They showed us some fun behaviors such as leaping or "porpoising" out of the water. A minke whale joined this group and we got a few quick looks.

We continued on and found 2 more humpbacks and more minkes. As we headed back to Montauk several dolphins approached the boat, probably the ones we saw earlier in our trip, coming for one final good-bye.

  • TOTALS
  • 4 humpback whales
  • 3 minke whales
  • 18 bottlenose dolphins
  •  
  • PHOTOS

August 30, 2019

Today was a sunny , beautiful day as we set out again in search of whales. We only had to round Montauk Point and cruise along the south shore for 40 minutes before seeing our first whale blowing. This turned out to be a humpback whale, in very shallow water (50 feet) making shallow feeding dives. The water was literally teeming with giant schools of bait fish, menhaden, at the surface. The whale was only going down for a bit over 2 minutes as its food was right at the surface.

Within a half hour we spotted several other blows and investigated. We watched these other 4 humpbacks feeding on and off for the rest of the afternoon.

Looking towards the beach we saw a pair of whales moving very closely together. Captain Dave brought the Viking Starship over to them and we were amazed to see they were fin whales- at one and a half miles from the shore, we had never seen this species so close to shore! This pair of medium whales, about 40 feet long, gave us several good looks as they too were feeding on the surface menhaden. Within the hour we saw quite a few other whales, more fins, humpbacks and a couple of minke whales.

The children aboard kept yelling with delight as whales surfaced over and over around the boat. We were running out of time when a humpback whale, as if to wave "good-bye", did a "down dive" and put its tail fluke up in the air before disappearing again.

  • Totals
  • 7 humpbacks
  • 5 fin whales
  • 1 minke whale
  •  
  • PHOTOS

September 1, 2019

Great trip today started with a humpback whale 15 minutes past the lighthouse. Spotted two identified whales while watching this humpback. After leaving humpback whale we came across 2 Finback whales. Approximately 12 bottlenose dolphins joined the two Finback whales for a brief time. After leaving the Finback whales we came across our second humpback whale fluking several times. This whale also gave us some flipper slapping which everyone enjoyed. We continued our search for more marine life to find blows off in the distance from to different whales. Unfortunately unable to identify the whales as they disappeared as we approached.???????

  • Totals: 
  • 2 Humpback Whales
  • 2 Finback whales
  • 4 unidentified whales 
  • 12 bottlenose dolphins
  •  
  • PHOTOS