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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

Author: Danielle Dion

Annual Offshore Trip – September 13, 2015

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Hello everyone, Danielle here to share with you our offshore adventure from Sunday, September 13th!  Our annual offshore trip is something we, and our regular passengers always look forward to every year.  This year we lucked out with the weather but we were not sure what we were going to find as the whales have been difficult even off Grand Manan this season.  We left the dock at 7:30am with 34 excited passengers and we made our way to our first stop on the Wolves Bank about 17 miles from St. Andrews where we found a large finback whale.  We didn’t stay for too long as we wanted to continue offshore past Grand Manan.  We also had our Scout Boat out (THANK YOU to Sean, a Quoddy Link family member and ex captain, Jolinne, a Quoddy naturalist and Sarah, the captain of the Elsie Menota of Whales n Sails from Grand Manan) to help with the search.  Our next stop was close to Whitehead Island past Grand Manan with another large finback whale and a few minkes.

DSC_2970

Finback whale off Whitehead

We also had some incredible pelagic bird sightings in this area with phalaropes and petrels, shearwaters and gannets, puffins as far as the eye could see and a very special sighting of a south polar skua!!

South polar skua

South polar skua

Our Scout Boat continued on and they met up with the Jupiter, a boat with the NEAq right whale research team and they agreed to keep in touch and we would let them know if we saw anything and they would also let us know what they saw….and are we happy they did.  The Jupiter called the Quoddy Link and let us know that they had 4 humpback whales another 8 miles from us!!  So, off we went, another 8 miles into the open Bay of Fundy,  When we got there we spent time with 2 of the 4 humpbacks (they were in pairs and the second pair was further out) who we IDed as Lace (a female who is very large and may possibly be pregnant) and Partition.  We got some amazing looks at the pair before we had to start the 2.5 hour trip back to St. Andrews.

Lace

Lace

Partition

Partition

Lace

Lace

Partition

Partition

humpback raising her tail

humpback raising her tail

blow of a humpback

blow of a humpback

Lace fluking

Lace fluking

beautiful humpback fluke

beautiful humpback fluke

look at the scars on the peduncle of Partition

look at the scars on the peduncle of Partition

The scarring is on both sides of Partitions peduncle

The scarring is on both sides of Partitions peduncle

Lace

Lace

In total we were over 43 miles from St. Andrews and out for over 6.5 hours but the trip was amazing!  Thank You to everyone who joined us this year and we hope to see many of you again next season.

Thank You again to the crew of the Scout Boat and the Jupiter for all of your help, it wouldn’t have been possible without you!

Cheers,

Danielle

Leatherback Sea Turtle Images

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I want to send a BIG thank you out to Juhis Lankinen for sharing his photos of the leatherback sea turtle we saw on August 22, 2015.  This was such an amazing sighting and the first for Quoddy Link Marine in the 21 year history of the company (and my first leatherback sighting ever).

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest sea turtle in the world reaching an average length of 2 meters and more than 900 kg! They have the most hydrodynamic design of any turtle and they have 7 distinct dorsal ridges on their soft, leathery carapace. Leatherbacks are unique among reptiles as they are endothermic able to maintain an internal body temperature about 18 C above the water temperature. They are also the fastest moving reptile (recorded at 35 km/h) and one of the deepest diving marine animals (more than 1200 m). Their diet consists almost entirely of jellyfish and like all marine animals plastic marine debris is a huge conservation issue.

leatherback sea turtle showing the characteristic dorsal ridges

leatherback sea turtle showing the characteristic dorsal ridges

leatherback sea turtle raising it's head for a breath

leatherback sea turtle raising it’s head for a breath

leatherback sea turtle

leatherback sea turtle

THANK YOU again to Juhis Lankinen for sharing these images, we appreciate it so much!!

Cheers,

Danielle

The first week of September

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Hello everyone, I am so sorry for not posting more here…we have been SO busy but I am here for a quick update.  I do want to mention that I always do daily posts on our facebook page as well.

So for the past week we have been having some great sightings of both finback and minke whales.  The majority of our fin whale sightings have been offshore on the Wolves Bank while our minke whale sightings have been amongst the Islands.  We have been running offshore to search for fin whales whenever the weather has allowed.

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

minke

minke

Fin whale

Fin whale

a fin whale crossing our bow

a fin whale crossing our bow

DSC_2872

minke whale surfacing

DSC_2868

Slice, a favorite minke whale

On September 3rd we had one of the best porpoise sightings I have had in 14 years.  We also had a HUGE lions mane jellyfish in the Happy Hunting Ground.

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise

harbour porpoise mom and calf pair

harbour porpoise mom and calf pair

lions mane

lions mane

DSC_2638

On September 4th we had an incredibly special sighting of a North Atlantic right whale just off Greens Point Light.  This is not a typical area where we would see rights and with only 520 individuals left every sighting is special.  We only saw the whale once but I did manage to get a photo of the tail and the New England Aquarium right whale research team is hoping to get a match from the scarring on the peduncle.  I will keep you posted if I hear about a match.

North Atlantoc right whale

North Atlantoc right whale

On September 7th we had a sighting of a harbour seal I have been looking for all season.  This young seal was bitten by a white shark in 2013 but survived and I photographed the harbour seal last year and now again this season!!  Was so happy to see him today on the ledges off Casco Bay Island.

harbour seal showing healing from a shark bite wound

harbour seal showing healing from a shark bite wound

Sorry again for the lack of posts this week, hopefully I can get back on track now,

THANK YOU for checking in,

Cheers,

Danielle

Fin whales and NO FOG!!

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Hello everyone, just a quick post to let you know the past 2 days have been wonderful with fin whales, minkes and even a Mola mola but the best part has been the lack of FOG!!

Here’s a photo of an ocean sunfish or Mola mola that we saw on August 27th on the morning departure.

Ocean sunfish

Ocean sunfish

Here are some fin whale photos from today, August 28th.

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Finback in some amazing evening light

Finback in some amazing evening light

And I thought I would share some photos of seals as well.  I do want to mention that I did photograph a young grey seal with a large shark bite on his hind region towards his flippers yesterday.  The attack was almost certainly from a white shark.  The number of seals have been down in the area the past few days but were a bit higher today.

male grey seal

male grey seal

harbour seal and 2 female greys

harbour seal and 2 female greys

Thanks for checking in everyone,

Cheers,

Danielle

Fog Monster and Fin Whales

Hello everyone and HOLY FUNDY FOG!  We have been dealing with this fog for over a week and it’s not just us but a large portion of the Maritimes has been swallowed up by the fog monster!  But on August 24th and 25th we managed to find finback whales on all three departures on both days!  We have even seen some very impressive lunge feeding on herring from these whales.

Here are some photos from the past 2 days, I hope you enjoy.

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Passengers watching a fin whale from the foredeck

Passengers watching a fin whale from the foredeck

lunge feeding fin, if you look closely you can see the ventral pleats and eveb some lucky herring

lunge feeding fin, if you look closely you can see the ventral pleats and eveb some lucky herring

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

fin whale

Fin whale lunge feeding upside down

Fin whale lunge feeding upside down

Fin whale

Fin whale

While we were stopped watching seals yesterday evening we saw an adult bald eagle take a young gull…nature is amazing and brutal.

Bald eagle eating a young gull

Bald eagle eating a young gull

We have also had a few very brief basking shark sightings over the past 2 days, sorry, no photos…the shark went under too quick.

Thanks so much for checking in!

Cheers,

Danielle

Finners and a Leatherback Sea Turtle!!

Hello everyone…the past few days we have been dealing with some incredibly thick fog but we have been seeing whales (we did miss a few trips due to the poor visibility).  Yesterday and today we have spent time listening, finding and then watching fin whales off the Bliss Island coast but this afternoon we had an incredibly special sighting, something I have waited 14 years to see….a leatherback sea turtle!!

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest sea turtle in the world reaching an average length of 2 meters and more than 900 kg! They have the most hydrodynamic design of any turtle and they have 7 distinct dorsal ridges on their soft, leathery carapace. Leatherbacks are unique among reptiles as they are endothermic able to maintain an internal body temperature about 18 C above the water temperature. They are also the fastest moving reptile (recorded at 35 km/h) and one of the deepest diving marine animals (more than 1200 m). Their diet consists almost entirely of jellyfish and like all marine animals plastic marine debris is a huge conservation issue.

I only got one photo of the turtle (and I know it’s not the greatest), spent most of the time just watching with my eyes and it was a quick sighting before he dove but incredibly special for all on board.  I am hoping to have more photos to share with you soon from our passengers and our Scout Boat.

leatherback sea turtle

leatherback sea turtle

We did have some great sightings of a fin whale this afternoon as well and I wanted to share some photos with you.  Our Scout Boat was a huge help today in helping to locate this whale in the fog…Thank You John!!

Finback

Finback

Finback in the fog

Finback in the fog

Fin whale surfacing close to our Scout Boat

Fin whale surfacing close to our Scout Boat (the Scout is 19.5 feet long)

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Thank You to everyone who has chosen to join us aboard the catamaran over the past week!

Cheers,

Danielle

Some FINtastic trips

Hello everyone, we have been having some great trips the past few days and some great sightings of both minke and finback whales.  We have also been scouting the offshore areas as well, finding more feed, birds and some fin whales out there!

Here are some fin whales from the past few days.

Finbacl Whale

Finbacl Whale

Fin whale on a terminal dive

Fin whale on a terminal dive

Finback off Spruce Island

Finback off Spruce Island

Fin whale

Fin whale

Finback off the Wolves

Finback off the Wolves

Finback off Head Harbour Light

Finback off Head Harbour Light

Finback off Head Harbour Passage

Finback off Head Harbour Passage

And of course I have to share some seal photos…

harbour and grey seals

harbour and grey seals

harbour seals

harbour seals

Thank You for checking in today.

Cheers,
Danielle

Underwater porpoise footage

Hello everyone, Nick was able to get some underwater footage of a group of porpoise feeding on a bait ball of herring!  This was taken on our 1:30pm departure on August 10th.  It’s so amazing to see what’s happening under the water!  Thank You Nick!

Cheers,

Danielle

Mola mola and a Finner

We had a pretty awesome trip this morning and I wanted to share some photos with you!

We stopped first with a Mola mola, or ocean sunfish, the heaviest bony fish, on our way offshore to search for whales.

Mola mola, ocean sunfish

Mola mola, ocean sunfish

Mola mola

Mola mola

We didn’t have to search too far as we found a large and familiar fin whale just off the edge of the Owen Basin.  We got some amazing looks at this whale, the conditions were perfect.

finback off Campobello

finback off Campobello

large blow of a fin

large blow of a fin

finback

finback

surfacing fin whale

surfacing fin whale

lower white right jaw of a finner

lower white right jaw of a finner

finback whale

finback whale

We were unable to find the fin whale in the afternoon (NOT for lack of trying, we searched near and far) but we did spend time with a minke in Head Harbour Passage.  We also stopped with a very large group of feeding gulls, porpoise and a seal…they were all feeding on a large ball of herring.  We tried to get some underwater footage and will share when I can.

Thanks so much for checking in today,

Cheers,

Danielle

Incredible breaching minke whale

Hello everyone, we have been having some wonderful trips out on the Bay of Fundy out of St. Andrews recently.  We have been spending time with mostly minke whales but the fin whale sightings have increased for the month of August as the prey in the water seems to be increasing.

On August 9th on our 10am departure we had a very special sight with a breaching minke whale!  Although it is incredibly rare to see a minke whale breach it does happen in our area more often than others and we typically see it a handful of times a season.  It’s quite often the same whale, one affectionately refered to as Gonzo due to the shape of the dorsal fin.  I was able to get quite a few photos that I wanted to share with you, I hope you enjoy.

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

minke

The harbour porpoise and seal sightings continue to be great, they are usually very consistent throughout the entire season.  We are starting to see many bald eagle on Whitehorse Island, there to try to prey upon the young birds.  This morning we counted at least 10 eagles!

Thanks for checking in,

Cheers,

Danielle