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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

Month: September 2008

A Very Close Encounter With Cork and a First Visit with EKG

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Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from an absolutely amazing day out on the Bay of Fundy. Our morning charter was a lovely 2 hour nature cruise through the islands and we were able to spend some time with minke whales, bald eagles, seals and porpoise. We had a little extra time and had some fun in the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.
Our afternoon departure was a regular whale watch and with word from our Scout Boat that there were 2 humpbacks in the Grand Manan Chanel we made our way directly out. We were stopped on our way to the chanel by a large group of feeding birds, a few minke whales and a very large finback. After some great looks at the minkes we continued on our way. When we arrived we first found Cork, a 6 year old female humpback that we are very fond of at Quoddy Link and we have been watching her for 4 years now. Cork, to the delight and amazement of our passengers, decided to get curious with us and spent about 15 minutes just circling us, incredibly close to the boat! She even spyhopped one time as you can see in the 2nd photo down (a spyhop is when a whale emerges out of the water vertically and some whales can spyhop so half their body is out of the water). IT WAS AMAZING!
To make the trip even more fabulous we made our way over to the 2nd humpback and we quickly noticed it was not one we had seen this season. The whale has been identified as EKG (John and I assumed this was EKG but the ID was confirmed by PCCS), a humpback I first photographed in 2006 and was labeled as an “unknown” and put up for naming at the 2007 Gulf of Maine Humpback Whale Naming Event. This was our first sighting of EKG for the 2008 season. The photo above I shot today of EKG.

Thanks so much for checking in today. I hope to have more great news for you tomorrow! Cheers.

More Fabulous Finback Whale Sightings

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Hello everyone, it’s Danielle from Quoddy Link Marine back from a few days away from Blogger! I wanted to share our fantastic fin whale sightings with you and a few video clips that I have taken. A few days ago we had 4 finback whales travelling side-by-side….they were so powerful and beautiful to watch and you know what, if we hadn’t been as patient as we were, waiting for all of the other boat traffic to leave, we never would have got the sightings that we did. Patience really does pay off when you are watching wildlife! Below are a few pictures from that trip.

The video that I am sharing is from our departure yesterday. We searched….and searched for a humpback whale and with some word of right whales not too far from Swallowtail we made our way WAY offshore. With no luck we worked over towards where some fellow whale watching boats left a pair of finback whales. We found only one but it was an incredible sighting. This young whale lunge fed 2 times right close to the boat giving our passengers an incredible view of the awesome power of these whales. I wasn’t able to catch the feeding on video but I did catch a partial tail raise on the video below. If you watch the videos note the exhale and inhale of the fin whale and look at the size of the smaller harbour porpoise compared to the finback! There were also LOTS of birds (mostly gulls and northern gannets) in the area, also feeding on the prey that the finback was after

On a sadder note, we had to cancel our North Atlantic right whale trip for tomorrow due to the impending stormy conditions. As of right now we have no plans to reschedule due to the unpredictable fall weather but I will let you know if that changes. I do want to share a post from the Bay of Fundy Blog, National Geographic just published an article about North Atlantic right whales and there is a link to it on Terri’s blog (if you haven’t checked out her blog, have a look, it’s fantastic!).For all of you bald eagle fans…..the sightings have been great! We have had some trips where on small islands we are able to see 5-10 eagles, both juvenile and adults. This photo below is from Nubble Island, there were 2 adult eagles perched on one corner of the island and we could see 3 juveniles soaring above.I know I do this blog to inform you of whale and wildlife sightings with Quoddy Link Marine but I wanted to share an experience I had on Thursday. I took the day off and had the pleasure to go sea kayaking with Bruce Smith, a dear friend and owner of Seascape Kayak Tours on Deer Island, NB. I have spent 7 years on the waters of the Bay of Fundy and while paddling with Bruce I was able to experience those waters in a whole new way. I really was speechless….it was incredible. If you ever have the opportunity to visit our area and you want to try kayaking take the ferry out to Deer Island and paddle with Seascape, it truly is an amazing experience. If you do not want to drive around Quoddy Link Marine and Seascape kayak have a partnership where we can shuttle you from St. Andrews on our Scout Boat to Northwest Harbour, Deer Island where you can paddle with Bruce and his staff and we will pick you up when you are finished and take you back home to St. Andrews. It will save you 45 minutes of driving and a 20 minute ferry crossing (and any wait in the ferry line)! Thanks for checking in today, the weather forecast is not the greatest for the next few days but I will keep you posted! Cheers!

Fantastic Fin Whales

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Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine with a quick update from the past few days. The weather has been so incredible lately we wish we never have to return to port! We have spent the past few days with finback whales and the sightings have been incredible. Yesterday we had 6 individuals off Bliss and today we had 3 fin whales travelling side-by-side! We have been venturing offshore in search of humpbacks but we have not seen any yesterday or today, I’m sure they are around, they are just being consistently inconsistent! I have included 2 videos I took over the past 2 days, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for checking in today, Cheers!

Another Great Fall Day and Another New Humpback Whale!

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Hello again, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from another great day on the water. Our morning took us offshore where we located 2 large fin whales in the Grand Manan Chanel but we were looking for humpback whales so we made our way towards The Wolves and we located Cork, a 6 year old female humpback. We got some great looks at her and the photo on the left is showing her, on her side, as she made her way through a large amount of feed, most likely herring. She also brought her pectoral flipper out of the water but I missed that in the photo.
Our afternoon trip took us directly back offshore, and with word from Fundy Tide Runners, a fellow whale watching company out of St. Andrews that there was 2 finback and 2 humpbacks we made our way straight out. When we arrived we quickly ID’ed one of the humpbacks as Cork, the same humpback from the AM charter. As we got a look at the second humpback we quickly noticed that we had another new humpback! This humpback was seen earlier this season by Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies during their survey of the Bay of Fundy. This humpback has yet to be matched in the catalogue so keep checking, I’ll post info as I hear.
The bird sightings were also great today. I have included 2 photos from today. The top photo is of an immature northern gannet and the lower is an immature jaeger (note the herring in the jaeger’s mouth…..which was stolen from a gull!!).

I have been in touch with Shelley from Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises and she provided me with a photo of Six (below), the mother of the young humpback we saw yesterday and the day before. Six was sighted in 1984 and the little humpback we have been seeing is her 5th known calf! Thank You Shelley for your help! I also want to mention that the folks on the Brier Island side had a very special sighting yesterday, an Orca was spotted in the Bay of Fundy!!

Thanks for checking in today! I’ll keep you posted when I hear more about the humpback we sighted today. If it turns out to be a new individual we are going to have to think of a name suggestion for this one as well!

Another Great Fall Day!

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Hello There, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link back from a great day on the water and a party for Bebe, our Wharfinger for the the public wharf here in St. Andrews (Congratulations Bebe for your 10 years at the Wharf from your Quoddy Link friends). Our afternoon started off Spruce Island with 2-3 finback whales. With some great looks at the fins and word from our Scout Boat that the conditions offshore were improving (and that they were seeing more blows) we made our way towards the same area where we were yesterday. On our way John, our captain and owner, spotted a blow that he thought was a humpback. With a closer look we realized it was our little humpback from yesterday, Six’s 2007 calf! We spent about 45 minutes with the young humpback and got some great looks at the underside of the fluke. This young whale will need a name soon so if anyone has any suggestions send them along! The rules for naming a humpback whale are:

– the name must be short
– it should be descriptive about the whale’s fluke pattern, body scars or other identifiable feature
– it cannot be gender specific
– it cannot be a person’s name
– it cannot duplicate another name on the list

So have a look on the underside of the fluke, look for a black pattern and send me any names you think of and tell me why you chose that name!

Thanks for checking in today! Cheers.

2 Humpbacks, 8 Finbacks and a Couple of Minkes….What a Great Trip!

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Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine back from a fabulous day on the water. Today was the first in a few days without strong winds so we took advantage of that and Matt went out on our Scout Boat to see if he could find the humpbacks we have been seeing in the offshore area. With a call from Matt at about 2:30 that he had not 1 but 2 humpbacks and 5 fin whales not too far from Southern Wolf we made our way directly offshore. From over a mile away our passengers could see the strong blows of the fin whales travelling side by side. We did get a chance to get a great look at the fin whales a little later in the trip but the first whale we spent some time with was Cork, a 6 year old humpback whale we have become very fond of here at Quoddy Link. We had 2 very close encounters with her, check out the video and photo below!

This is Cork. Her name comes from the black mark on the right hand side of her fluke that resembles a wine cork (also looks like a cartoon drawing of a mushroom cap that would be on a pizza). We knew there was another humpback whale in the area, and we assumed it was Mustache but when we got a closer look we knew instantly, by the small size and the shape of the dorsal fin that this was a new humpback whale! These photos have been sent to Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and I hope to hear soon who this little humpback is. I’ll keep you posted!

I wanted to include this photo I took the other day of some young gulls feasting on and fighting over small herring. The gull on the left has a herring in its mouth.

Thanks so much for checking in today. I’ll post the info on the ID of our new humpback when I hear back from the folks at PCCS. Cheers!

Our New Little Humpback Whale Identified!

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Well, just as I published today’s post I got a response back from Jooke Robbins, the director of the humpback whale research at Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies about the identity of our new little humpback whale. I would like to introduce Six’s 2007 calf! What this means is that this little one is only a year old, on the feeding grounds for the first time with out mom and because of this resighting will now be put up for naming at the 2009 Gulf of Maine Humpback Whale Naming Event next spring! Humpbacks are recorded with their moms but not put up for naming until they are resighted the following year without their mom. This young whale will be given a name based on the pigmentation on the underside of the fluke. Researchers will be looking for a dominant black mark and select a name based on the shape of that mark. Any suggestions??

Thanks again for checking. And can I just say I LOVE MY JOB! Cheers!

Fantastic Fin Whales!

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Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link rested after a day off! We had quite a bit of wind here on the Bay of Fundy today so most of the boats stayed in the harbour. The past few days have been great though, despite the fog and rain. We have been seeing many finback whales right up Head Harbour Passage, between Deer Island and Campobello Island. Yesterday morning we had an incredible sighting of the young fin whale calf as “she” travelled so close to the boat we could actually see her eye from the upper deck of the Quoddy Link. I didn’t have my camera around my neck due to the misty weather but I’m very happy I could just watch with my eyes. I try and make an effort not to take my camera out some trips so I can just take in what I see and not watch everything through the view finder of my Nikon! On the afternoon trip patience was required as the fog moved in and out more than once but with some great fin whale sightings John decided to take us further offshore towards Grand Manan to see if we could find a humpback whale and as you can see from the photos we did! We spent about 30 minutes with Cork, a 6 year old female humpback, before we had to start making our way back to St. Andrews. The rest of the wildlife sightings are still incredible, so many porpoise and birds in Head Harbour Passage as well an both adult and juvenile bald eagles. We are running whale watching trips until at least October 12th so if you are in the area come out on the Bay of Fundy and experience our world with Quoddy Link Marine.

Thanks for checking in today. Cheers!

Mustache, Cork and Mom and Calf!

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Hello all, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link back from a long day at “work”, I have a hard time calling it work when we have a great day like we had today! On both trips today we had a “Hat Trick”, seeing all 3 species of whales commonly found in our part of the Bay of Fundy; minke, finback and humpback! Our morning trip was extra special with an absolutely fantastic sighting of a cow/calf finback whale pair. We found the pair at the mouth of Head Harbour Passage off the northern tip of Campobello Island. It was great to see mom back with her calf, we had a great sighting of just the calf a few days ago. Looking at the dorsal fins it does look like it is the same caw/calf pair from earlier in the season. The calf looked so big a few days ago but to see him back with mom……She is a BIG finback whale.
Here are a few pics of the cow/calf pair, mom is obviously the one closer to us!

On our 10:00 am departure we had some help from Matt on our Scout Boat and made our way far offshore and spent some time with Mustache!

Our afternoon trip was just as great, stopping with a fin whale and then learning from another whale watching company out of St. Andrews that there was a humpback whale closer to Grand Manan. When we arrived I was very happy to see Cork, a 6 year-old female humpback we haven’t seen in 3 weeks.

With gorgeous weather and amazing whales and wildlife today my “job” didn’t feel like work at all! Thanks for checking in.

Fin Whales and Hundreds of Gannets

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Hello all, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine bringing you another update from our whale watching tours. Yesterday we had a pleasant surprise seeing the little fin whale calf that we had earlier in the season. We didn’t see the mother anywhere around in either the morning or the afternoon. This is normal, as a female finback whale only nurses her calf for about 8 months. The picture below is from yesterday morning of the little calf (little is relative, the calf is between 25-30 feet long!). I also want to mention that the northern gannet numbers are still amazing, I actually think they have increased over the past few days! I know that most of our passengers are not on the boat to see birds but to be able to show them feeding northern gannets, which is so impressive, is such a great way to bring everything together, and see how everything is so vitally connected. To show 4 vastly different species (whales, porpoise, gannets and tuna) all feeding on herring and everything is there because of the tides in the Bay of Fundy, in a delicate balance. September on the Bay is amazing!

Thanks for checking in today! Cheers.