On our 2pm departure Matt took us directly offshore to look for the humpback whales we left. On our way out we saw a humpback whale blowing, only about 14 miles from St. Andrews, a little closer than we usually find them. As we got a closer look I quickly saw that is wasn't one of the 3 humpbacks we had this morning and I did not recognize this new whale! It's always very exciting to see a new humpback and it's one of my favorite parts of my job to photograph and figure out who these new whales are. After I got home this evening I looked at the fluke pictures and I am pretty sure this is EKG, another "unknown" from our 2006 season that was named at the 2007 Humpback Whale Naming Event. The contribution that Quoddy Link Marine makes to Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) is essential to learning and studying the Gulf of Maine population of endangered humpback whales. If we did not send our photos and data to PCCS these 2 whales may not be part of the catalogue and every individual is important to help protect this endangered species.
This is a photograph of EKG (still waiting for confirmation on the ID) that I took today.
After spending some time with EKG we made our way further offshore in search of the 3 humpbacks we had this morning. On our way out we found 3 large finback whales. These whales may not raise their tails like humpbacks but they are much larger, reaching over 65 feet in our area.
We continued further and saw some splashing ahead of us and went to check it out. I was very pleased to see Mustache again but this time he was behaving in a way I have only seen on TV! He (I'm not sure if Mustache is a "he", I just don't like to say "it") was blowing a cloud of bubbles under the water, almost in a circular pattern but not large enough to "net" the fish and then he would swim, sideways, through the cloud of bubble, sometimes with half his fluke and one pectoral flipper out of the water. There is a possibility he was bubble cloud feeding on schools of fish (the bubble cloud will confuse the fish and make them school tightly) or maybe just playing. Below you can see the bubble and Mustache coming up in the middle.
Below is a video that Melanie took on the boat today of Mustache.
Mustache was also raising his tail and gently slapping it on the surface. It wasn't a hard slap as if to stun prey. It was very gentle and so amazing that such a large animal can be that graceful.
A pectoral flipper and note the scalloping edge on the flipper, a characteristic trait of humpback whales.
My favorite picture I took today. Mustache brought his tail out and then raised his body high out of the water (like a synchronized swimmer would do, upside down in the water). It was amazingly beautiful.
Thanks so much for checking in today and reading about our very special day. I'll let you know if my IDing is correct for these 2 humpback whales. Keep checking often, you never know what other surprises this fall season may have in store!