Friday, August 31, 2007

Some late summer Bay of Fundy Fog

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine with a few days of updates. The past 2 days have been rather foggy at a time of the summer we don't usually get a lot of fog but we have still been having some great finback whale sightings. Both yesterday and today we had finback within the inshore area where the fog has been lifting (at least long enough for us to see whales). On 2 of the trips the finback whales were quite active, barrel rolling and showing us their pectoral flippers and flukes....very special sightings. Our Scout Boat was out today to search the offshore area but the fog moved back in and the visibility was too poor to look for humpback whales. The bird sightings continue to be fantastic with large numbers of northern gannets around. Today we also had shearwaters (sooty and greater), Bonaparte's gulls and yesterday I saw 2 common murres, a "cousin" to the Atlantic puffin.

Thanks for checking in today, keep watching for more posts from Quoddy Link.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Finbacks and some offshore fog

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from another day on the Bay of Fundy. We had some weather to deal with today including about 15 knots of southwest winds and offshore fog! Even with the weather we did have 2 very nice trips with some great sightings with finback whales (the weather just wasn't suitable to be able to venture offshore in search of humpback whales). On each departure today we spent time with finbacks and with some patience (absolutely essential when whale watching) we got some very close looks at these large whales. On our way home we stopped at a seal haul out site and got some great looks at both harbour and grey seals. We also had some time to stop and show our passengers some local fishing and aquaculture techniques. In all we had 2 great trips today.

Take care everyone and thanks for checking in today. I'll keep posting our sightings as they come.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a FANTASTIC day!

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. What an amazing day!! With breaching humpback whales this morning and a humpback and 6 finback whales this afternoon it has been an absolutely incredible day. With the help of Matt and Louise on our Scout Boat (left) we were able to head right out to the humpbacks on both our departures today. I was not on our morning trip but from what I've been told it was a GREAT trip. They had both Hobo and Cork, 2 humpbacks we know quite well. Melanie, one of our naturalists was able to get 2 videos of the humpbacks today. One is a close encounter with Cork, a 5 year old female humpback whale. The other video is of Hobo breaching (wait for it, its an amazing video, Melanie did such a great job)! Why humpback whales breach is not fully understood but it is believed to be to knock parasites off their body, to attract mates or stun prey.....or maybe just for fun!

I've included a series with Cork (taken on our 2:00 pm departure) and picture of one of the 6 finback whales from this afternoons trip.
I'm working on uploading a video with a close encounter with some finback whales, hopefully I can post it soon. Thanks so much for checking in today, and keep checking for more whale sightings with Quoddy Link Marine!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cork, Hobo, finback and minke whales....another GREAT day!

Hello everybody, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from a fabulous day on the Bay of Fundy. It was calm and actually quite warm on the water today (but please always bring layers, sweatshirt and a jacket, even today we gave out all of our blankets!). With the end of our evening departures we have a little more time to play with and with the help of our Scout Boat we ended up offshore on both trips today (a bit farther out in the afternoon). On our 10:00 am trip we spent time with Cork, a 5 year-old female humpback and then headed back inshore where we had a fantastic fin whale sighting and we also saw a minke whale (a 20-30 foot baleen whale). What a great trip!!

Our 2:00 pm trip took is back off the Wolves but about 4 miles further out than our morning departure. We spent some time with Cork, then got word from Matt on our Scout Boat that he was seeing a few basking sharks and another humpback whale! We made our way over and had the chance to show our passengers the second largest fish in the world, a basking shark! No need to let your Hollywood fear of sharks scare you with this guy, he has NO TEETH! Basking sharks are filter feeders, having gill rakers in their gills to catch tiny plankton. After we spent some time with the shark we made our way over to the second humpback who turned out to be Hobo, another whale we are familiar with at Quoddy Link Marine. After we spent some time with Hobo we moved closer to home and our Scout Boat let us know he was watching 2 very active finback whales. They were charging around, travelling at high speeds and blowing so hard and loud at the surface. It was an awesome trip!

Here is Hobo. Hobo was never sighted as a calf so we are not sure of "his" age or sex.

This is Cork, a 5 year old female humpback whale.

A finback whale from our morning departure. This whale was sighted right off the entrance to Head Harbour Passage, at the northern tip of Campobello Island, NB.

I included this image in the blog because I wanted to show you the unique markings of finback whales. Here you can clearly see the blaze and the start of the chevrons. The blaze is a white marking that extends from the lower right jaw and continues over the whales head, behind its' blowhole. The chevrons are V-shaped markings behind the blaze. Both of these markings are unique and researchers will use photo ID to tell individuals apart.

Here is a picture of the basking shark we spotted, with the help of Matt on our Scout Boat, on our 2:00 pm departure.

Thanks so much for checking in with us today, the weather forecast is good for tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted on our sightings.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finback and Humpback Whales....another GREAT day!

Well, what another great day out on the Bay of Fundy. It started off foggy but by our 5:30 trip the winds had begun to shift and the fog was almost completely moved out. On our morning trip we were around the mouth of Head Harbour Passage with a large finback whale. Our Scout Boat was offshore looking for humpback whales but with no luck. By the time our 2:00 pm departure rolled around we got word from John that he had found 2 humpback whales offshore so we headed directly out. When we arrived we found both Hobo and Cork, 2 humpbacks we have become very familiar with at Quoddy Link Marine. Even with the humpback whale sightings on our afternoon trip I think that our evening trip was my favorite of the day. We had 3 large finback whales off East Quoddy Head Light on the northern tip of Campobello Island. They were charging around and giving our passengers amazing views of their imense power, speed and grace.

Below is a photograph of a finback whale taken today, on our 10:00 am departure.
Here is a picture of a Northern Gannet. These amazing seabirds are plunge divers, sometimes diving from a height of over 100 feet. They are going after herring, the same food source as our porpoise, whales and many birds. A grey seal, one of the 2 species of seals commonly seen in the Bay of Fundy. Note the long forehead, large nose and wide-spaced eyes.Thanks so much for checking in with us, I'm going to leave you with a picture of Hobo, a humpback we spent some time with today on our 2:00pm trip. The weather looks fantastic for tomorrow and we are hoping to get offshore to look for humpbacks. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Absolutely Amazing Humpback Whale Sightings!

Hello whale watch enthusiasts, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. I'm so happy to be able to share some very special sightings with you all. Yesterday morning Matt left early on our Scout Boat to search the offshore area for humpback whales. It has been almost a week since our last humpback whale sighting but we were not to be disappointed. With a call from Matt that he had found Cork, a 5-year old female humpback we headed offshore towards Southern Wolf. When we arrived we found Cork swimming very slowly and stopping many times to simply lay there or "log" on the surface of the water. She approached the boat many time on both our morning and afternoon departures giving our guests an excellent view of her entire 35-40 foot body under the surface of the water.

On our 10:00 am trip Cork wasn't in the "mood" to show us her tail but she did on our 2:00 pm departure, to the delight of all of our passengers.
Here you can see her logging at the surface of the water. Note her long, white pectoral flippers at her side. The pectoral flippers of a humpback whale can be up to 1/3 their body length, reaching a maximum of 15 feet!!
Here you can see her tubercles on her rostrum. These bumps on the front of her head each have a coarse hair growing out of them which serves a sensory function (similar to the whiskers of a cat or seal).
These bottom 5 images show a sequence of Cork swimming along side our catamaran. Note her exhale, or blow, from her double blowhole (a characteristic of all baleen whales).

I want to thank all of our passengers who were on the Quoddy Link for these very special sightings, everyones enthusiasm and awe makes my job that much more enjoyable. Thanks for checking in and keep checking back often for more whale sightings with Quoddy Link Marine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beautiful weather and whales!

Hello everyone. The past 2 days have brought absolutely gorgeous weather and lots of finback whales. These whales are continuing to feed not too far from St. Andrews (in previous years we have had to go over 16 miles to see the larger whales like finbacks). To the left you can see a large ball of herring, the main food source for finbacks in our part of the Bay of Fundy right now (they also feed on krill here). This "bait ball" was right at the surface and there were herring and greater black back gulls feeding like crazy. We were able to pick up some of the small fish to show our passengers and I even fed some of the crabs in our Touch Tank!

Below are some photos of finback whales I took today.....Enjoy!

The weather is suppose to be nice tomorrow, hopefully our Scout Boat will be able to get out and help us search for humpbacks (we did have a look today in Grand Manan humpbacks but a GREAT sighting with a pair of finback whales and NO boat traffic). Thanks for checking in and I will keep you posted tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some awesome finback sightings!

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from a little vacation of my own. The whale sightings have continued to be fantastic even with some windy conditions. We have had many finback whales that have remained "inshore", where we are protected from the rough offshore conditions. Due to the weather offshore we have not been able to go out and search for humpback whales for the past 5 days.

Below are three different finback whales we saw today. Have a look at the shape of their dorsal fins, the fin on their back. Each dorsal fin has a unique shape.

The photo below shows some other unique markings that each finback whale has, a "blaze" and "chevrons". The blaze is a white brush-like stroke that extends from the lower right jaw (which is also white, the lower left jaw is the same colour as the back, a coppery-brown) and continues behind the blowhole. The chevrons are V-shaped markings behind the blaze. These markings are unique for each finback can help researchers ID individual whales.

Some harbour seals I photographed on Saturday morning on Splitting Knife, a common haul-out site for seals.

Thanks so much for checking in with us and keep checking back often for more updates.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The 2007 season is continuing to amaze us!

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. I'm very sorry for the lack of posts during the past week, I have had a few days off to do some travelling of my own throughout this beautiful province. Things here with Quoddy have been spectacular. The whales continue to amaze us. With finback whales moving from the Blacks Harbour shoreline towards Campobello and remaining inshore and when the weather and the tides co-operate we do get offshore in search of humpback whales. We are still seeing both Cork and Hobo, 2 humpbacks we are very familiar with but they are still not showing much consistency with their feeding and travelling patterns.

Here is a photo I took on our 5:30 cruise last night of a finback whale just outside the Fundy Isles. This whale is approximately 50-55 feet long, the length of the Quoddy Link, our whale watching catamaran!

The bird life has been absolutely GREAT this year. With the large amount of herring in the water we have seen more northern gannets than I can remember seeing in my past 5 years with Quoddy. The majority of the ones we see are in various stages of juvenile plumage.
Here you can see a northern gannet confronting a young gull. All of the birds and most of the marine mammals in the area are feeding on the same food source, herring and krill.
Here is a northern gannet getting looking for a fish and getting ready to plunge dive. Gannets are one of the only birds with binocular vision, they can look forward with both eyes. They also have air sacs in their head and neck area that inflate before they hit the water to protect them from the impact.

Below is a terminal dive from Cork, a 5 year-old female humpback whale. Many whales do not raise their tails on their terminal dive but humpbacks do (one of the many reasons they are a favorite among whale watchers). When they raise their tails they are telling is who they are, the black and white pigmentation is different on every, individual humpback whale. If you have a look at the right hand side of Corks' fluke you will see a black mark which looks like a mushroom cap or a plastic wine cork, that is how she got her name....."Cork".

Thanks so much for checking in, I will continue to keep you posted on all things Quoddy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wind, rain and some better weather...but great whales!

Hello there, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. Well, the past few days have brought a lot of wind and a lot of rain but some great whale sightings. Yesterday we had quite a bit of rain but on our 2 departures we had fantastic fin whale sightings.
Today started off with a strong northwest wind and on our morning and afternoon trips we stayed closer to home with both finback and minke whales. The photo above you can see the characteristic blow of a finback whale, tall and straight.

At 5:30 the winds had almost completely dropped out and the tide was on the flood so John, our captain and owner, decided to make the run offshore in search of humpback whales. When we arrived we found Cork, a 5-year old female humpback as well as 5-6 finback whales.

We spent some time with Cork while she was lunge feeding, coming to the surface with her mouth closing, water pouring out between her baleen plates and her ventral grooves were fully extended. It was awesome! The photo below was one of her surfaces very close to the boat, you can see the water pouring out of the side of her mouth.

Thanks so much for checking in with us today. It looks like the weather should be great tomorrow. Come down to St. Andrews and experience the Bay of Fundy....Catamaran Style.