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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

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A day of fog and strong southwest winds confined us to the islands but we did see 2 new minke whales.
This is Breadknife, a minke whale we have been watching for many years now. We spotted “him” off Windmill Point, Campobello Island.

Another minke whale we have seen in previous years, we saw this one between Eastpot, ME and Campobello Island, NB.

Hopefull the weather will clear up soon and we can head back out of the protection of the islands in search of finbacks and humpbacks.

First Humpback Whale Sighting!!

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We had our first humpback whale sighting today about 16 nm from St. Andrews! Typically we don’t see humpbacks regularly in our area until mid-August but last year they showed up in early July and stayed. We will have to keep our fingers crossed.

The humpback we saw today wasn’t in the “mood” to show us “his” flukes. This is a picture of his dorsal fin, and you can see why they are called humpbacks, their dorsal fin is located on a small hump. We also saw 2 finbacks today and a minke whale.

Finback Whales

We have been seeing finback whales almost almost everyday now. I have photographed 2 individual whales. Finbacks are identified by the shape of their dorsal fin as well as the colourations and permanent scars and marks on their back and caudal peduncle.
Here you can see the “blaze”, the white markings extending from the lower right jaw over the back behind the blowhole. This blaze is used in identification.

This is the dorsal fin from the whale above.

This is another finback that we have seen. You can see we were not far from land, very close to Bliss Island. You can see the difference in the shape of the dorsal fin of this finback and the one shown above.

I will make sure to post any identifications I get. These images will be sent down to Allied Whale in Bar Harbor where they have a catalogue of North Atlantic finback whales.

First Finback Sighting

Hello there, it’s Danielle, senior naturalist and photographer with Quoddy Link Marine. We had our first finback whale sighting today, something we are all very excited about. I wasn’t able to get any pictures because I was in the office today. I will post pictures as I get them.
Here is a minke whale that we saw in Head Harbour Passage on July 3rd. Head Harbour is a popular spot to look for whales. It is a deep passage where there is a lot of upwelling, and brings the cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface and provides plenty of food for the whales.

Harbour seals are abundant in our area of the Bay of Fundy. They are incredibly dog-like in profile and are always entertaining to watch.

A rainbow appeared over the town on Canada Day (July 1st) after our 2:00pm trip. Just another beautiful day in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.

Fog fog go away…

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Hello there, it’s Danielle, photographer and senior naturalist with Quoddy Link. We officially started our whale watching season on Saturday, June 24th and were greeted with some very thick fog, and it hasn’t left yet. This isn’t stopping us from going out and looking for whales. Given it is very early in the season the whales have been difficult to find but we have still spent time with some incredible wildlife.

Harbour seals are commonly seen in the Bay of Fundy. Even in the fog we are still able to view them hauled out on rocks and reefs. Here you can see their small fore flippers and their natural colour variation.

The fog has been persistent offshore but we have had some clear days in amongst the West Isles. This is a mature bald eagle just taking off. Both the males and females develop this colouration with the white head and tail feathers and brown body, the juveniles are brown and molted. Bald eagles are numerous in the area and maritime eagles have participated in re-introduction programs in the USA and have helped to remove the American bald eagle from the endangered species list.

I will keep you posted in the days to come. All of us in St. Andrews are hoping the fog will lift soon.

First Whale Sighted!

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Hi, it’s Danielle again, senior naturalist with Quoddy Link Marine. I just wanted to let you know we saw our FIRST WHALE on June 19th. It was a minke whale sighted off East Quoddy Head Light, on the northern tip of Campobello Island. Minke whales are usually the first species of whale to arrive in our part of the Bay of Fundy. They are the smallest baleen whale we have here, averaging around 25 feet.

The minke was sighted on a nature cruise. Even though it is early to see whales consistently in our area there is still lots of wildlife out there in the Fundy Isles. We have been doing many chartered nature cruises taking us out into the Bay of Fundy. There are lots of harbour seals and bald eagles around too see, as well as harbour porpoise and lots and lots of beautiful scenery.

Our first official whale watching trip is on June 24th, this Saturday. Come and join us to experience everything the Bay of Fundy has to offer….Catamaran Style.

All 3 photographs taken by R.J. Sauk on a nature cruise.

A trip to Machias Seal Island

On May 24th we had the privledge to visit Machias Seal Island with a group of 20 students from The Huntsman Marine Science Center. Basically a rock with a lighthouse surrounded by shoals, Machias Seal Island is located 10 miles SW of Grand Manan in the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. What makes Machias Seal Island so special is that it is a nesting site for colonies of Atlantic puffins, razorbills, common murres and Arctic terns. The 3 1/2 hour trip out down Western Passage and out through the Lubec Narrows was calm and surprisingly warm for late May. About 8 miles from our destination we started seeing Atlantic puffins and razorbills.

When we arrived at the island we saw hundreds of razorbills and common murres rafting on the surface of the water and the odd Atlantic Puffin flying by.

These pictures are razorbills, a heavy-headed, short necked alcid that can be identified by it’s thick bill (with a white line that extends from the base of the bill to the eye) and long tail which points upward while swimming.

Alcids are diving birds who use their wings instead of their feet to propel themselves, or fly, under the water in search of food. Other alcids in the Bay of Fundy are Atlantic puffins, common murres, dovekies and black guillemots.

Ccommon murres also nest on Machias Seal Island. They can be difficult to differentiate from the razorbills at first glance but with their long, thin bills and almost chocolate brown colour with a close look you can see the difference. Common murres also have a thin, white eye ring.

The birds on the rocks here are common murres. One of birds that nest on Machias is difficult to photograph unless you land on the Island. The Arctic tern was flying overhead our entire visit, screeching and shrieking, warning us to stay away from their nests. If you are a visitor on the island, they actually give you a stick to hold because the terns will “dive-bomb” your head and try and strike the highest point. If you hold a stick, the stick gets hit with their pointed bill instead of your head. Arctic terns are champion long distance migrants, wintering in Antarctica and nesting as far north as the Arctic, traveling an annual distance of more than 40, 000 km. Terns can easily be identified by their long tail feathers, thin sharply pointed back wings and shrill call.
On our trip home we spent some time with nesting black-legged kittiwakes and double-crested cormorants on Whitehorse Island.

We also stopped at a common seal haul-out site, Splitting Knife, a shoal that’s barely visible at high tide, but as the water ebbs becomes an ideal spot for harbour and grey seals to haul out and bathe in the sun.

Machias Seal Island is a rare and special place. It is actually a disputed territory with both Canada and the USA staking claim to the land. Canada has maintained the island for so long that it basically has “Squatters Rights”. It also has the only manned lighthouse in the maritimes. You can visit Machias Seal Island through tour companies located on Grand Manan, NB and Machias, ME.

We are looking forward to our whale watching season, it’s just around the corner now. We saw quite a few harbour porpoise on our trip to Machias Seal Island which is a good sign. I’ll make sure to keep you posted on everything we are seeing as the season continues, so check back often, or better yet, coming whale watching with Quoddy Link Marine…Catamaran Style starting June 24th.

Meet Squalus, a humpback from our 2005 season

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Hello, it’s Danielle again, senior naturalist and photographer with Quoddy Link Marine. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve identified another humpback from our 2005 season…

This humpback was named Squalus at the 2006 whale naming conference in Provincetown, MA. The name Squalus comes from the black markings on the upper left corner of the fluke (the pattern is difficult to see in this picture). Squalus comes from the genus for dogfish sharks, including the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), which is a very common smaller shark (up to 3.5 feet) found in the Bay of Fundy.

We look forward to seeing you in the summer for our 2006 season. We start whale watching on June 25th. Come see everything the Bay of Fundy has to offer with Quoddy Link Marine….Catamaran Style.

The 2006 season is quickly approaching…

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Hi there, my name is Danielle Dion, senior naturalist and photographer with Quoddy Link Marine. That’s me on our Scout Boat photographing Hobo, a humpback whale (photo taken by Isabelle Coultier). I just wanted to let you know how I’ve been keeping myself busy until the season starts on June 25th. There were some humpbacks and a special finback from the 2005 season I wanted to identify and with the help of Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA and Allied Whale in Bar Harbor, ME, most of the mysteries were solved. Here’s some of the whales that we saw last year…

This is Parachute, a humpback we saw in 2004 and 2005. Humpbacks are most commonly seen in our area from late August – October, but in 2005 we started seeing humpbacks in late July.



Trillium (the 2004 calf of Quote)


Downsweep (the 2004 calf of Clamp)

A finback, Raggedy. Finbacks are the second largest animal in the world, at lengths of up to 75 feet and weighing over 200,000 lbs. We usually watch finbacks from the beginning of July-October.

A close encounter with a minke whale. Minkes are the “smallest” whale we get in the Bay of Fundy at 25-30 feet and 20,000 lbs. Minkes are usually the first of the whales to arrive, showing up in June.

I also had the opportunity to attend the 2006 humpback whale naming conference in Provincetown, MA. Scientists and naturalists along the north Atlantic coast gather once a year to give names to re-sighted calves and previously un-named humpbacks. All humpbacks are given names based on the black and white patterns on the underside of their flukes (they are all different, as unique as a fingerprint, take a look at the pictures above and see if you can tell the difference between the 6 humpbacks). The grouped selected one of my suggestions, so I got to name a
humpback whale. The name chosen was Mascara, have a look at the left side of the fluke on this image and see if you can guess why I suggested this name.

This is a humpback from our 2004 season. “He” got named at the 2006 whale naming event in Provincetown, MA. Meet Cork, the 2002 calf of Mica.

Next summer we’ll be providing pictures and latitude/longitude data from humpbacks and finbacks to the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and Allied Whale. This is the first year we’ll be a part of this important research and it’s very exciting for us. By keeping a close eye on humpback and finback individuals, both of which are endangered, the scientists can get a better look at the population as a whole.

We look forward to seeing you in the summer. We start whale watching at the end of June. Come whale watching with Quoddy Link Marine and experience everything that the Bay of Fundy has to offer…Catamaran Style.