Sightings & News

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Please check out our new blog for 2012: lots of pictures and updates!

   http://granitestatewhalewatch.blogspot.com


August 13, 2011

Hopefully everyone's been checking in on us through Facebook, as our naturalists and crew do a fantastic job of updating daily and posting their pictures...unlike our long lapses between posting here! It continues to be a wonderfully diverse and consistently good season; since May 30th, we've seen whales on every single trip! We've been treated to a large variety of species of marine life, which is one of the reasons we love Jeffreys Ledge so much. In the past month alone, we've seen: Humpback, Northern Right, Sperm, Sei, Fin, and Minke whales, Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, Blue and Basking sharks, Ocean Sunfish, Harbor and Grey seals, and Harbor Porpoise!

For the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of plankton in the water, which is the preferred food source of two rare species, Northern Right and Sei whales. On Aug. 9th alone we saw at least 20 Sei whales on each trip, which is insane! We've gone entire seasons without seeing a single Sei whale, so to have so many in the area at once is pretty cool. Even rarer are Northern Right whales; in the past, they were hunted nearly to extinction, and though enormous efforts have been made to ensure their survival, there are only about 450 of them left in the world. It's been so exciting to share a sighting of this "once in a lifetime" whale with our passengers!

Most recently, we saw five species of whales on yesterday afternoon's trip: Humpbacks (identified as Zio and Striation,) Northern Right, Sei, and Fin whales (including Mr. Jiggles and Hotdog Roll, obviously our own pet names for them!) and a pod of Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins. Combined with perfect weather, it was another amazing day out on Jeffreys Ledge!


July 11, 2011

It has been another great week of whale watching, with one giant surprise!  The giant surprise was a Sperm whale that we just happened to  find on our way home from our afternoon whale watch on Thursday.  We saw several Sperm whales last August, which at that time had been our first Sperm whale sighting since 1996!  We though for sure it would be at least a few years before another sighting, but to our surprise we had one right next to the boat less than a year later.  After the Sperm whale sighting we were also able to help a whale disentanglement team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies re-locate an entangled Humpback whale.  This team did an amazing job and successfully freed the whale (Lavalier's 2009 calf) of the fishing gear that was seriously restricting its movement.  Our more average trips lately have included lots of Humpback whales, Fin whales, and Atlantic White Sided Dolphins.  We have been lucky to be at the right place at the right time on a few trips and have been treated to a crazy whale feeding frenzy with Humpbacks and Fin whales lunging at the surface eating Herring and Krill.  Sabot's calf has also been the highlight of a few trips- breaching next to us 17 times in a row on one trip!  Check out this cool pic of the Granite State and a Sperm whale!



July 6, 2011

We had great trips yesterday, with the afternoon being one of the best trips of the season so far!  On the morning trip we were lucky enough to look at ten different humpback whales, including two mother and calf pair- Mudskipper and Sabot being the new mothers.  We also sighted several different fin whales, and lots of minke whales as well.  The same whales were around on the afternoon trip as well, but the food that they were feeding on had moved up close to the surface, which resulted in some amazing feeding behaviors.  At one point we had a group of fin whales and humpbacks lunging at the surface upside down and sideways trying to get as big of a mouth full of food as possible.  It was an amazing sight!  We finished up the trip with some great looks at some Atlantic White Sided Dolphins!  A great day on the water all around!!


June 30, 2011

The second half of June has brought us excellent whale watching, with lots of Humpback, Finback, and Minke whales.  We have recently begun to see Atlantic White Sided dolphins much more frequently as well.  Many familiar whales have returned to feed on Jeffreys Ledge, and the bait fish have been quite abundant.  We have also sighted several Basking sharks recently- always popular with the kids!  It looks like summer might have finally arrived, hope you can join us soon.  Check us out on Facebook and Twitter for more frequent sightings updates.


June 10, 2011

Our whale watching season has gotten off to a strong start so far.  The first two weekends were quite foggy to say the least!  We still had great luck on two of the first three trips sighting lots of Sei Whales and our Humpback friend Gondolier on the first weekend and four Humpbacks including Gondolier, Sedge, Cardhu, and Hornbill.  Unfortunately, the fog never lifted for us on Sunday of that week, and we were unable to find the whales we knew were there!  Last weekend, the 4th and 5th of June was excellent. On Saturday we sighted four Humpacks- Shark and her new calf, Bayou, and an unnamed whale that we have sighted several times over the last couple of years.  Sundays trip was the highlight of the season so far.  We started the trip with Owl, one of our all time favorite Humpback whales.  Owl was the victim of a ship strike many years ago, but being the survivor that she is she recovered fully and has brought many calves to Jeffreys Ledge since.  There were many more Humpbacks in the area including Sabot and Calf.  Sabots calf breached right next to the boat eight times!  We'll be back at it tomorrow...hopefully you can join us! 

September 11, 2010

Happy unofficial fall! It's our favorite season of whale watching...the weather is cooler (wear your jacket!) and there's usually fantastic whale activity! Some species live here year round, and the whales that do migrate will remain in the North Atlantic for a few more months. And because they don't eat during their southern winter migration, they spend the fall months feeding as much as possible before they begin their journey. Unfortunately, we do tend to get more stormy and/or windy weather this time of year, so we don't always get out as much as we'd like to. We lost much of the Labor Day weekend to the effects of Hurricane Earl, but managed to get out that Sunday afternoon and Monday. Between those two trips, we had a total of about 14 Northern Right Whales (wow!), including Bugs and her calf, the same pair we had earlier this season! It was wonderful to be able to check in on this pair and see that they're both doing well. After that, we didn't get out on the water again until yesterday, when we had a great trip with a "grand slam" of baleen whales: Northern Right, Sei, Fin, and Minke Whales! Sei whales were especially abundant; as one passenger put it after the trip, "they were everywhere!" This species is usually pretty rare to see; we didn't see a single Sei whale all last year. But from the first weekend of this season back in May, there have been lots of them in the area, which is very exciting! Sei whales resemble Fin whales, but they are slightly smaller and have a noticeably more pointed dorsal fin. The weather looks good for the upcoming week, hope you can join us soon!

August 28, 2010

The last couple of weeks have been very exciting around here! It started on August 17th, when we saw about 25 Pilot Whales! These toothed whales travel in pods, love to eat squid, and are pretty rare to see. In fact, the last time we saw them was August 13, 2008, almost two years ago to the day. The fact that Pilot Whales were in the area meant that there were lots of squid around, but we were not expecting another squid eating species to show up the very next day...a SPERM WHALE!! What we assumed was a fluking Humpback in the distance turned out to be a Sperm whale as we got closer to it; it was pretty unbelievable! We've been whale watching for thirty years, and have only seen a Sperm whale once, in 1995! None of the crew that was on the boat for this year's sighting were on the boat that day back then, so it was very special. We ended up seeing one or two(!) Sperm whales on our trips for the next two days as well, and it was wonderful that so many passengers were treated to this once in a lifetime experience. Sperm whales are quite unique to see; for one, they have a single blowhole that's situated very close to the front of their head and off to one side, making for a sideways spout! Another difference from more commonly seen species is that their average dive time tends to be much longer. We were very fortunate to get great looks on our trips as they stayed at the surface for a long time!

After the Sperm and Pilot whale excitement, we had a huge Nor'easter that kept us in port for several days. But in the last couple of days since we've been back out, it's been awesome again! On Friday we saw about 20 rare Sei whales, 200 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, several Fin whales, Harbor seals, Blue sharks, and a juvenile Humpback! The weather looks warm and perfect again for the foreseeable future...we hope you can join us for an adventure out on Jeffreys Ledge, you really never know what you may get to see!

August 15, 2010

One word sums up the last couple of weeks here...busy! We've been blessed with near perfect weather, so we've had lots of enthusiastic passengers out on every trip, and the whales have been keeping us busy watching them. We've never before had the chance to say that Northern Right Whales have been one of our most frequent sightings recently; we saw at least one on 72% of last week's trips! I won't go on and on again about how special it is to see one of these whales (see August 1st's post for that!), but it's been wonderful sharing the experience with so many people. It's entirely possible to go whale watching for years and not see a single Northern Right Whale; it's been very exciting to hear so many people say, "this was my first whale watch ever, and I got to see a Right Whale!" While not as unusual a sighting for us as a Right Whale, we have been seeing a lot more Blue Sharks than we usually do. These sharks average 6-10 feet in length and eat small fish and squid. We love seeing a great variety of marine life out on Jeffreys Ledge, and it's very cool to see those fins poking out above the surface of the water! Shark species in general are misunderstood, and Blue Sharks are no exception. We often have passengers nervous or fearful about seeing a shark; in reality, humans are Blue Sharks' biggest predator. Between 10-20 million of them are killed every year as a result of fishing, mostly as by-catch, which is when they are caught and killed by accident when fishermen are trying to catch other species. Blue Sharks are not known as an aggressive species; in fact, they are not a species we can often "watch" as they tend to dart away under the surface as soon as a boat tries to approach! We hope you can join us soon to see some of these fascinating animals in their natual habitat; you never know what you may get to see!

August 1, 2010

It continues to be another great summer out on Jeffreys Ledge...and we've been traveling every inch of it, as most of the whale activity over the last couple of weeks has been fairly far offshore. Our number one priority is giving our passengers the best possible trip on that day, even if that means spending the extra time and money on fuel to travel a far distance. As a result, we've had several trips where we've gotten back to the dock a little late, but the time spent with the whales made it worth it! One highlight of the last couple of weeks was getting to see a mom and calf Northern Right Whale! These whales are extremely endangered (they got their name by being considered the "right" whale to hunt back in the whaling days,) and only about 400 exist in the world today. Even rarer than an adult Right Whale sighting is getting to see a calf; only 19 Northern Right Whale calves were born this year! Two of our crew members, naturalist Melanie and captain Jonathan, spend their winters on the coast of South Carolina, one of the areas where Right Whales migrate in the colder months, where they're part of a research team. They identified the mom we saw as #1241, nicknamed "Bugs." They saw her and her calf this past winter down south; it's great knowing that they both survived the journey north to the summer feeding grounds! We've also seen Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales, and lots of Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, which are always a big crowd pleaser! Several Blue and Basking Sharks have been spotted recently...despite the fact that they've been seen not too far south of us in Massachusetts, we've actually never seen a Great White Shark in all of our years whale watching out on Jeffreys Ledge. Great Whites love warm water to swim in and seals to eat, both of which are in abundance in many Massachusetts bays and coves, but not so much out in the deep water where the whales are. But we all have our fingers crossed; we think it'd be pretty cool to see a Great White! As always, our crew continues to do an awesome job updating our Facebook page daily, complete with photos...thank you to all of our "Facebook friends" who have such nice things to say and pictures to share about the trips you've been out on this year!  

July 17, 2010

We've had another couple of weeks of great whale watching! As is typical for our New England summers, the weather likes to keep us on our toes...we've had to deal with some foggy mornings that were supposed to be clear, and on the flip side we've had multiple afternoons with nothing but sunshine when the weathermen were calling for thunderstorms. But to answer a question we get asked often, the weather doesn't affect the number of whales in the area, since being mammals, they still have to come to the surface to breathe air every few minutes. And there have been lots in the area! We pride ourselves on going the extra mile (both literally and figuratively!) in order to give our passengers the best trip possible, and we've been doing that a lot lately. For example, this past Thursday morning we traveled far down south and were rewarded by finding a total of eight Humpbacks, about 45 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, Minke whales, a Fin whale, and lots of Bluefin tuna. That afternoon we were the only boat in the area that decided to steam out to the far northern end of Jeffreys Ledge, where multiple whales had been reported earlier in the day. As a result, our passengers were treated to the sight of multiple Humpbacks feeding, and even got to see lobtailing and breaching! For more details and photos from each of our trips, please visit our Facebook page. Our naturalists and crew do a great job of updating it daily, and since they've had lots of practice at it, there's some pretty amazing photos up there as well!

July 3, 2010

The whale watching has been awesome since the last update. One of the best things about it has been the incredible variety of sightings; this is the one of the reasons we love Jeffreys Ledge! As an example, yesterday morning we saw three rare Sei whales, Fin whales, Minke whales, a Basking Shark, Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins, and lots of Bluefin Tuna. In the afternoon we saw five Humpbacks, Fin whales, Minke whales, lots more tuna, and had a "grand slam" with all four species of Shearwater birds: Manx, Sooty, Greater, and Cory's! In the last week we've also seen lunge feeding Fin whales, open mouth feeding, breaching and tail breaching Humpbacks, and a very curious juvenile Humpback who spent 45 minutes one morning spyhopping close to the boat! This is a behavior in which a whale positions itself almost vertically in the water and then raises its head above the surface to get a good look around. Please make sure to visit our Facebook page; our naturalists and crew post updates daily, and they also include the amazing pictures they take on each trip!

June 22, 2010

Great day on the water today!  On our morning trip we had 4 Fin whales, and Hornbill the Humpback, as well as some Minke whales and a couple of basking sharks.  The afternoon was just as good with 4-5 Fin whales, one who was identified as Trax, first seen in 1979, and the Humpback whale Doric.  Wednesdays weather looks a little shaky, but it looks like the weekend should be gorgeous!

June 21, 2010

Our full time whale watch season has begun, and so far the whale watching has been great!  Recently the whales have been a bit closer to shore than normal, and a whole lot closer than they were at the start of the season.  We have sighted familiar Fin Whales Loon, Squiggle, Fjord and most excitingly, Ladder in recent days.  We have also been seeing Humpback whales fairly regularly on our trips, as well as Minke Whales.  For more in depth sightings info, visit our Facebook page.  Our naturalists have been doing a great job with in depth sightings updates and photos.

May 29, 2010

The whale watching continues to be great out on Jeffreys Ledge!  Today we started the trip with a Fin whale who was traveling at a decent pace and was difficult to get a look at at first.  However, after we figured out the whales travel pattern, we were able to get some excellent looks.  We then continued up the ledge to the northeast, and located quite the feeding frenzy!  Involved in this frenzy were the humpback whales Satula, Highlighter, and Basmati, along with a ton of Tuna and diving Gannets.  There were also a lot of scared Herring at the surface.  The humpbacks were bubble feeding and surfacing with their mouths wide open, while the tuna were chasing the fish that the whales missed, and the Gannets were cleaning up the scraps!  All in all an awesome day out on Jeffreys Ledge!

May 12, 2010

It was an exciting day yesterday as we set out with the Granite State on sea trials with the crew from Caterpillar Marine Power.  The new engines passed the test with flying colors.  The Granite State topped out at 24 knots (28 miles per hour), our previous top speed was 19 knots.  The boat cruised at about 17 knots, 4 knots faster than previously, all while burning less fuel!  Any of you who have been out with us before will notice the difference as soon as we leave the dock.  Thank you to all of our crew, family, and friends who have worked so hard to complete this project!

Capt. Pete

May 8, 2010

It has been a busy winter in the boatyard, but the spring whale watch season is finally just around the corner.   I can't wait to get out on the water and take the new and improved Granite State out to Jeffreys Ledge.  We finally fired up our brand new Caterpillar C-12 engines, and they sounded great.  They will give us more speed than we had in the past, while saving a whole lot of fuel- which is great for the environment!  In addition the new engines are remarkably quieter than the old ones, making it a much quieter trip for both our passengers and the whales.  I hope to see you all soon!

Capt. Pete

September 21, 2009

The weather has kept us in port more than we would like lately, but the whales have been great when we have been out.  We continue to see lots of Fin whales, many of them continuing to feed on the small Herring that have made Jeffreys Ledge come alive this summer.  We've also been seeing Humpbacks, and a ton of Atlantic White Sided Dolphin as well.  This season continues to be one of the best that we have had in terms of whale sightings in quite some time!  Come join us for some wonderful fall whale watching!

September 6, 2009

We had another great week of whale watching, with the added bonus of sunshine, unlimited visibility, and calm seas! On our trips this week we had very high numbers of Fin whales (at least 10-20 per trip), and got to witness many of them feeding. This is great news for our passengers, as it means lots of whales to look at, and great news for the whales as well, because it means there's lots of food! We also had several different humpbacks this week, with many of them also exhibiting different feeding behaviors. Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins were seen on a few of our trips, and one day we saw three different pods on one trip! We've been noticing a lot of jellyfish in the water lately, and sure enough, we found an Ocean Sunfish, or Mola Mola, just outside the harbor two days in a row! They are the largest bony fish in the world, and weigh about a ton. Jellyfish are their main food source, and anyone who's been lucky enough to see one of these very unique looking fish will not soon forget it. In addition to these species, we also saw Minke whales, Bluefin tuna, Harbor seals, and many species of pelagic birds this week. It's amazing to be in an area with the opportunity to see so many different types of animals; every day is truly a new adventure!

August 30, 2009

It continues to be a fantastic season of whale watching! Since the last update, we're still having high numbers of sightings on every trip, and we've had a great variety of species as well. In addition to Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales, we've seen Atlantic White-sided Dolphins, Harbor seals, Harbor porpoise, Bluefin tuna, and Blue sharks! The pelagic birds also continue to be around in incredibly high numbers, and we've been happy to have so many wonderful birders on board with us! The arrival of fall doesn't mean the exit of whales; they will be in the area until November or December, and some species live in the North Atlantic year round. We hope to see you soon!

August 17, 2009

Here at the harbor, we have a board that lists our recent sightings from the past few days. As an illustration of just how good the whale watching has been lately, here's the list of what we had over the weekend, for everyone else to see!

Sat. Aug. 15: 25 Humpbacks, lots of bubble cloud and open mouth feeding, flipper slapping, breaching, etc. 150 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins. 12 Fin whales. 2 Minke whales. 10 Harbor porpoise.

Sun. Aug. 16: 31 Humpbacks, lots of bubble cloud and open mouth feeding, flipper slapping, breaching, etc. 40 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins. 10 Fin whales. 11 Minke whales. 1 Harbor seal.

Wow!!

August 15, 2009

Well, it's the broken record routine again, it seems like every day the whale watching gets better and better! There continues to be large amounts of bait out on Jeffreys Ledge, and as a result, there continues to be incredible amounts of marine life in the area. Not just whales, but we've seen several pods of Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins this week, and the pelagic bird show remains the best it's probably ever been. New whales show up in the area every day, and we've seen quite a few Humpbacks that none of us have ever seen before on Jeffreys Ledge (and some of us have been doing this for decades!) Some of these whales were seen earlier this summer down on Stellwagon Bank, but have decided to join the feeding frenzy up here instead! We've been lucky enough to witness a lot of behaviors that we don't often get to see; besides the impressive feeding activity, we've been treated to breaching, tail lobbing, and flipper slapping often in the last few days. Every trip is a new adventure, and while we never know what we'll see when we leave the dock every day, we encourage anyone who's ever thought about going whale watching to join us soon...your chances of having a great trip are about as good as they get!

August 9, 2009

The whale watching continues to be excellent!  I feel like a broken record writing these reports, but things out on Jeffreys Ledge have been consistently amazing!  The whales continue to feed voraciously on the ledge, and we've also been seeing some of the more rare behaviors like breaching, flipper slapping, and tail lobbing.  The highlight of the last few days was seeing some of our favorite whales return to the area, Clipper and Newton.  Clipper returned this year with a very large and playful calf who has already been the highlight of a couple of trips.  The weather continues to be gorgeous, hope you can join us!!

August 1, 2009

Things are still great out on Jeffreys Ledge with lots of feeding, and new whales showing up all the time.  Over the last two days we have sighted Upsilon and Trident for the first time this year.  The whales continue to feed intensely with lots of bubble clouds and lunge feeding.  Sighted in the last couple of days have been Chromosome, Fan, Filament, Milky Way, Mudskipper, Quote, Scylla, Solas, Tigris, Trident, Tripod, Upsillon and Valley as well as Fjord, one of our favorite fin whales!

July 28, 2009

We have been having some great trips out on Jeffreys Ledge lately.  We continue to see lots of surface feeding behaviors from both Humpback and Fin whales.  A few old friends have returned to Jeffreys after long absences.  Freckles (last seen in 2003) and Milky Way (last seen in 1996) both returned to feed yesterday.  We had over a dozen Humpbacks, lots of Fin whales, Minkes and even some Atlantic White Sided Dolphins over the last couple of days!

July 19, 2009

The whale watching has continued to be great over the last week.  We have sighted our Humpback friends Hornbill, Flask, Mudskipper, Quote, Valley, Tripod, Chromosome, Scylla, Tornado, Flask, Satula, Polaris, and Boomerang.  We also sighted Prong, a female Fin whale who was first seen with her calf in the summer of 2000.  There have also been numerous other feeding Fin whales around as well as some Dolphins and lots of Minke whales.

July 13, 2009

Great whale watching over the last couple days with lots of feeding and some active whales.  We have been seeing both Humpbacks and Fin whales engaging in some intense feeding behaviors much closer to Rye Harbor than usually, some only 8 miles away!  Among this group of whales are Fjord the Fin whale, as well as Quote, Flask, and Mudskipper- all Humpback whales.

Today we definitely had two great trips on Jeffreys Ledge, the highlight on both trips being Valley and Tornado, who decided that they were going to get a little active.  On the morning trip we were just leaving to return to Rye when they both breached simultaneously right next to boat!  On the afternoon trip we found the pair again, when Tornado began breaching in the distance.  The pair then continued to breach, flipper slap, and tail lob for almost ten minutes straight.  There were also a half dozen other Humpbacks, some Fin whales, and Atlantic White Sided Dolphin sighted yesterday.

July 6, 2009

The whale watching has been awesome on Jeffreys Ledge the last few days.  An abundance of bait fish has settled in, resulting in some pretty cool feeding behaviors.  Over the last few days we have seen Fin whales and Minke whales lunge feeding at the surface, and a lot of open mouth and bubble feeding from the Humpback whales.  Every day it seems like a few more whales move into the area.  Today we spent the morning on a southern part of the ledge and had a bunch of whales, then moved up to a central part of the ledge in the afternoon and had even more whales!  It was a real feeding frenzy this afternoon with 6+ Humpbacks bubble feeding on Herring.  We identified Valley, Tigris, and Tripod among the group this afternoon.  This morning we identified Fin whale 9724 as well as Hornbill and Sedge.  Yesterday we also sighted our first Atlantic White Sided Dolphin of the year, which was a real treat for everyone onboard.

The bird watching has been excellent as well.  Over the last few days we have sighted three species of Jaeger, four species of Shearwaters, a Puffin, and lots of Storm Petrels and Gannets.

We can't wait to get out there tomorrow....hope you can join us!

June 14, 200

Named Whales Sighted 2010

Humpbacks

Abrasion

Anvil's 2009 calf

Barb

Basmati

Cardhu

Chromosome

Diablo and calf

Doric

EtchaSketch

Filament and calf

Fracture

Fulcrum

Fundy's 2008 calf

Grackle

Highlighter

Hornbill

Ivee

Kickstart

Kohoutek

Knuckles and Calf

Lavalier

Lavalier's 2009 calf

Leukos and calf

Lutris

Mars

Nile

Nuages

Pinball

Pinpoint

Pitcher

Plateau

Sabot

Satula

Sickle

Siphon's 2009 calf

Solas

Striation

Tripod and calf!

Tornado

Vault


Vulture

Wheat

Zipper

Fin Whales

9709

0354

0532

9718

9724

Dingle

Fjord

Loon

Ladder

Trax

Named Whales Sighted 2009

Humbacks

Basmati and calf

Boomerang

Cajun

Chromosome

Clipper and calf!!!

Colt

Compass

Crisp

Cygnus

Diablo

Dice

Fan

Filament

Flask!!!

Fracture

Freckles

Fundy's 2008 calf

Glo-stick

Gondolier

Hornbill

Ivee

Jabiru

Komodo

Literal

Leukos

Midnight

Milky Way

Mudskipper

Newton!!!

Owl

Patchwork

Pinball

Pina & Calf

Polaris

Quote

Raccoon

Sabot

Satula

Scylla

Sedge

Skua

Solas

Spinnaker

Stonewall

Sword

Tigris

Tornado

Trident

Tripod

Trough

Trowel

Upsillon

Valley

Wizard

Fin Whales

Crow

Dingle

Fjord

Ladder!!

Prong

0354

0402

0407

0509

0718

9709

9618

9724

9904

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