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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

Month: August 2014

Finbacks…fog….and basking sharks!

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Good evening everyone!

The past week we have had everything from calm seas and clear skies to thick, thick fog and strong SW winds.  We have been seeing the same finback whale in our inshore area and there is still very little activity in offshore area off the Wolves.

Here are some photos of the finback whale we have been spending time with

On August 12th we did see a second finback whale off the Wolves but the highlight of that day was the number of basking sharks we encountered….three on our morning departure and one incredibly close sighting in the afternoon.  The photo of the dorsal fin of the basking shark has been submitted to the Shark Identification Network on Grand Manan and will added or matched to their catalogue.  I will let you know if they are able to make a match.

The fin whale we encountered off South Wolf 

Basking shark off the Wolves 

Basking shark doesal fin submitted to the Shark Identification Network 

Basking shark under the water 

Thanks for checking in, don’t forget to call and make a reservation (1-877-688-2600) if you are interested in our North Atlantic right whale trip on September 7th or our pelagic birding cruise on September 27th!


North Atlantic right whale trip!!

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Hello everyone, I just wanted to share with you that the date is set for our annual North Atlantic right whale trip!

This trip will take us out into the open Bay of Fundy, approximately 30-35 nm from St. Andrews and into areas which our out of reach of our regular whale watch trips.  We will be searching for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, considered to be one of the most endangered large whales in the world.  Currently the New England Aquarium right whale research team is seeing lots of right whales in the open Bay (you can follow their research HERE) but if the right whales move on before our trip we would still be able to head out into the area and search for humpbacks (everyones favourite), large groups of finbacks, dolphins and other offshore sealife.  We will be in contact with the right whale research team and our friends at Whales n Sails off Grand Manan to see where they have been sighting whales.

And just some more information about the trip….

This trip is very weather dependent.  We will be watching the weather closely in the days before and our captain will make the decision on if the trip is a go the evening before.  PLEASE call the office to check the weather and when you make a reservation please leave a phone number with us so we can contact you.

Due to the length of the trip and the long transit time out to where right whales feed there are no children under the age of 10 allowed on this trip.  Sorry if this disappoints anyone.

Dress warmly!!  Pack a bag with extra layers, even a toque and mittens would be a good idea

Please arrive at the office at least 30 minutes before the departure, so by 7am and if you need to cancel please let us know 48 hours in advance (this is a popular trip and we typically have a waiting list)

There is no food to purchase on the boat (we will serve complimentary hot chocolate and cookies) but you are welcome to bring anything you would like (no alcohol please).  The only place open in St. Andrews for you to stop at before the trip will be Tim Hortons on your way into town so please give yourself some extra time if you want to do a Timmy’s run!

That’s about everything you need to know, spot fill up quickly and space is limited so if you want to join us call 1-877-688-2600 to make a reservation!


Fin and minkes….and an ocean sunfish!

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Hello everyone, I just wanted to share a really great sighting we had this morning while offshore at South Wolf….an ocean sunfish or Mola mola!

We had spent time with a minke whale and then a fin whale but with too much traffic around the finner we decided to head offshore and see what else we could find.  We did find another fin whale but it was being very hard to watch and then we could see a fin out of the water.  The dorsal fin of an ocean sunfish could be mistaken for a shark but the side-to-side movement of the fin left us with no doubts…it was a Mola mola!

The Mola mola is the heaviest known teleost (bony fish) with a weight of >1000 kg!  The are active swimmers and not planktonic swimmers at the mercy of the oceans currents like once believed.  They move by simultaneously stroking their dorsal and anal fins (they lack a caudal fin altogether) and they make substantial vertical movements in the water column.  They are neutrally buoyant without a swim bladder due to a low-density subcutaneous gelatinous tissue.  This tissue does not compress with depth and has been reported in some deep sea fishes.  Mola mola live on a diet of nutrient-poor jellyfish so they must consume an immense amount to maintain their size.  

Here are some photos I took of the ocean sunfish today and Nick also tried to get some underwater footage so I will share that as soon as I can.

Thanks for checking in and I will post the video when I can,


New finner mom and calf pair….breaching minke and basking shark…amazing couple of days!

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Good evening everyone, I just wanted to do a quick post and share a few photos from the past couple of days….

Yesterday we were so excited…we found a mother and calf fin whale pair off South Wolf and it turned out to be a different pair from the one we saw a few weeks ago!

Here are some photos, the calf has some beautiful markings!

Fin whale calf 

Fin whale calf 

Fin whale mom

We were also amazed to see a breaching basking shark on our way out to the Wolves.  The shark actually breached three times and I managed to get a photo…check out the dorsal fin!

Today we saw a finback whale all the way in Passamaquoddy Bay, all the way up to Misjic Bluff!  I have never seen a finner so deep in Passamaquoddy before in my 13 years with Quoddy.

This afternoon we saw a minke whale breaching…and of course it was Gonzo, the same whale that is seen breaching in the area multiple times every season.

The bald eagle and seal sightings have been great on every trip.  Always lots to see if you are willing to watch the water.

harbour seals 

Grey seals….how happy does the large male in the middle look?

For more photos don’t forget to check out our Facebook page 

Thanks so much for checking in,


FINtastic kind of day!

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Good evening everyone, some great news, yesterday on our 10am departure we found a fin whale not too far outside of the Horse and we were able to spend time with the same finback on all three trips yesterday.  This morning it was just too foggy to be able to watch the fin whale (although some boats did get a brief look it was just too difficult to stay with him) but we did manage to re-locate the same finback in the afternoon off South Wolf!

How can I tell it’s the same, one finback whale that’s in the area?  Well, part of my job is to do my best to keep track of the individual whales in our area and for those whales who have a dorsal fin, every one is unique in shape and size. So when we saw the finner yesterday we looked closely at the dorsal and we immediately knew it was a familiar whale…welcome back “Top Notch”!  This is just an affectionate name we have for this whale and not an official catalogue name.  My photographs are submitted to the College of the Atlantic as they hold the catalogue for finners for the Gulf of Maine.   I should note that finbacks are also individually IDed by their blaze, the white brushstroke-like pattern on the rights hand side of their rostrum that extends from their lower jaw to behind their blowhole.  

Here are some photos I took yesterday of this finback whale.

You can see the blaze here 

You can see the small notch out of the top of the dorsal fin…also, the scar on the front is new since last season

Thank You to everyone who has joined us and check back soon for more updates,


I would like to introduce “Quoddy”…the Atlantic white shark!

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Hello everyone, I had mentioned a little while ago that we had some exciting news about the white shark we sighted a few weeks ago from the Quoddy Link….well, here is Nick to tell you all about it.

Very excited to announce that the GREAT WHITE SHARK we
sighted and photographed recently is now officially named “Quoddy” in
the database put together by researchers with the Atlantic White Shark
Conservancy and Massachusetts Marine Fisheries. 

These researchers have tagged over 39 white sharks in the
North Atlantic, some of which are known to return to the Bay of Fundy each
summer. The shark we saw is not known to them, and can be identified by the
distinct scarring on the left hand gill slits.

The attached photo shows a tagged white shark named Scarface
who is one of several that return to Canadian waters. The data they are
gathering is helping to decipher the patterns, preferences and behaviors of
Atlantic white sharks. With some luck, they may be able to tag
“Quoddy” the white shark and track his/her movements around the North

Minke whales and bald eagles and lots of porpoise

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Hello everyone, we have been seeing minke whales on every departure the past 3 days and have had to deal with lots of fog!

On July 30, on our 10 am departure we had an amazing but brief sighting of a porbeagle shark in flat clam and crystal clear waters.  Thank You Jolinne for getting this picture!

The bald eagle sightings have continued to be incredible, we many on Whitehorse daily feeding on the young gulls and we have also seen groups of eagles feeding on bait balls of herring as well

Eating a young gull on Whitehorse

Talon full of small herring 

On July 28th I photographed a seal with some scar marks that I thought looked familiar and I looked back to a photo I took last October and I was right!  Check out the shark bite and the healed wound, incredible.  It is the same seal, the colour difference is due to the molting of their coat that happens with harbour seals from June-August

Today we had a really special sighting of feeding harbour porpoise.  We found a group of gulls and eagles feeding on herring and as we approached closer we could see the porpoise feeding co-operatively under the water, surrounding the ball of herring in order to keep them tightly schooled.  You can see the white bellies of the porpoise under the water in many of the photos.  Simply incredible to watch them feed!  

gulls and porpoise (white belly) feeding on herring 

porpoise (left), herring (middle) and gull 

Gulls going after herring 

There seems to be more food arriving in our part of the Bay and we are hopeful that larger whales will arrive soon, I will always keep you posted on our most recent sightings,

Cheers and thanks for stopping in,