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2009 CRESLI Viking Whale watch reports


click here for a photo-gallery for all trips

 

Tuesday September 1, 2009

Today was another spectacular day Whale Watching on the Viking Starship! We found a large fin whale very quickly into the trip (est. @ 70 ft long) and we were able to watch it for over an hour as it displayed some great blows and people were able to capture many great photos. There was also a minke whale swimming in the same area. We then went searching for more cetaceans and found another smaller fin whale. This whale lunged once, followed by a couple of breathing sequences. After leaving the fin whale, we headed back towards Montauk, only to find ourselves surrounded by 80-100 bottlenose dolphin (inshore subspecies). They put on a great show, porpoising, breaching, and tail slapping.  As usual, we found many pelagic birds, but counts were made.  Total for the trip: 2 fin whales, 1 minke whale, 80-100 bottlenose dolphins

Monday August 31st

Excellent visibility and calm seas were no help today. We travelled to the areas where we had been finding whales and birds, but were unsuccessful again today. Few birds, and a breaching basking shark were all that were seen. Today's total; 1 Basking Shark, 12 Cory's Shearwaters, 1 Greater Shearwater and 60 Wilson's Storm Petrels.


Sunday August 30th

A tough day. Torn between the desire to find whales and the potential for high seas- we decided to head out knowing that conditions were safe enough albeit rough. We reached the whale grounds by 11am, but by then many people were unwell and we decided to conduct a slow turn back while looking for whales. We found a blue shark and some pelagic birds but no whales. Totals for today's trip included 1 blue shark, 20 Cory's Shearwaters, 20 Greater Shearwaters and 70 Wilson's storm petrels


Tuesday August 25th

One of the best days of the Year

We had reports of a few whales not far from where we were headed. Our first whale, a fin whale, was seen just after 11:00am. We saw about four fin whales, but they were staying down for long times. Within an hour, we found some minke whales. We began our way home and were pleasantly surprised by an amazing congregation of 12 fin whales and 2 more Minkes. The totals for today's trip were 15 fin whales and 4 Minke whales, 75 Cory's Shearwaters, 3 Greater Shearwaters, 1 Manx Shearwater, 5 red phalaropes, and 200 Wilson's Storm Petrels.

Click here for photos
SUNDAY August 16

Dolphins and whales!!


An amazing trip! We headed out and found a group of 100 Common dolphins at 10:30 am. By 10:50 we found the first pair of the 9 Fin whales seen during the trip (3 cow/calf pairs + 3 singletons). We also encountered at least 8 Minke whales. What a day! Totals for the day: 9 Fin whales, 8 Minke Whales, 100 Common dolphins, 200 Wilson’s Storm Petrels, 200 Greater Shearwaters, and 60 Cory’s Shearwaters.

Click here for photos


Tuesday August 11th

Basking Shark, Dolphins, and Humpbacks

A long day, but well worth it!! We headed to several whale areas before finally finding something breaching a few miles from us. It was a massive basking shark, (somewhere from 15-18 ft in length). After leaving the basking shark, at 1:30pm, we found 60 Common dolphins a few minutes later. They gave us some good views as they rode our bow wave and wake. On our way back we found a humpback juvenile (Appaloosa's 2007 calf) that checked us out repeatedly diving under us and coming up next to the bow. A short while later we found an adult as well. Overall today we saw 1 Basking Shark, 60 common dolphins, 2 humpback whales, 150 Wilsons Storm Petrels, 25 Cory’s Shearwaters, 10 Greater Shearwaters, 1 Manx shearwater and 2 Northern Gannets.

Click here for Photos
MONDAY August 10

A long trip to Coxes Ledge wasn’t successful. We traveled and looked hard, but found no whales today. We’ll try again tomorrow. Totals for the day; 1 Blue shark, 1 Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, 200 Wilson’s Storm Petrels, 50 Cory’s Shearwaters, 50 Greater Shearwaters,  1 Manx Shearwater, and 3 Northern Gannets.
SUNDAY August 9

One fin whale (briefly)


A day of unlimited visibility and reports of whales was promising. We headed towards where whales were seen yesterday and found a fin whale shortly after 11:00am. The whale blew twice, then dove. We waited for 30 minutes for the whale to resurface, but it didn't, at least not near us. We then headed to the east of another whale sighting from yesterday, but to no avail. In total on today's trip we saw 1 fin whale, 1 Pomarine Jaeger, 150 Wilsons Storm Petrels, 50 Cory's Shearwaters and 15 Greater Shearwaters. 
TUESDAY August 4

Dolphins, tuna, pelagic birds and FOG


We left the dock under sunny skies, looking forward to getting offshore to find cetaceans and pelagic birds, and to avoid some of the oppressive heat on land. As we neared the Montauk Point Lighthouse, pea-soup thick fog rolled in. We knew that the fog was patchy and we were determined to find clearings and life. We continued out, and once we found a clearing, we found cetaceans – Short-beaked common dolphins. A group of 30 dolphins swam towards us, around us, and under our bow for some time, giving everyone an excellent view of adults and calves. We headed further out and again found fog; then clearing; then more fog, etc. For many hours and many miles, we searched for other cetaceans and openings in the fog. We returned to the area we visited yesterday and with good visibility, once again, we found lots of tuna and pelagic birds. Although we had reports of fin whales in the area, we didn’t find them today. We had to “settle” for some amazing views of dolphins, tuna, pelagic birds, and the interactions between them. Our totals for the day: 30 Common Dolphins, 96 Greater Shearwaters, 67 Cory’s Shearwaters, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 169 Wilson’s Storm Petrels, 2 Black Terns, 2 Parasitic Jaegers (bird counts courtesy of Shaibal Mitra).

click here for photos
Monday August 3

Tuna, Herring, Dolphins, and Whales

Conditions were perfect today- great visibility, good seas, and a cool breeze. We headed to the area in which we have been seeing whales for the past 3 weeks. As we got there we saw thousands of tuna jumping out in all  directions- acres of tuna. They were feeding on herring which in turn were jumping up in small groups and large shoals, also called "bait showers," and we knew that we should soon see cetaceans. We found a group of 30 common dolphins at 11:45. At 12:15 a minke whale blew briefly and left. At 12:20 a 75 foot fin whale made an appearancewe were able to observe it for some time before we headed home. Our totals for the day were- 1 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale, 30 Common Dolphins, 300 Wilson's storm Petrels, 500 Greater Shearwaters, 300 Cory's Shearwaters, and 1 Immature Northern Gannet

click here for photos


Sunday August 2

Fin Whales  and Bottlenose dolphins

The Viking Fleet/CRESLI whale watch went on the 140' Viking Starship to accommodate all of our passengers. Conditions were excellent and our first whales were seen just after 11:00 am. Six fin whales, including 2 mother/calf pairs were found during the two hours on the "whale grounds". The whales were occasionally elusive, but we did get some views, even though some would stay down for over 15 minutes. Just next to the lighthouse we found over 100 bottlenose dolphins on our way back in. Totals for the day: 6 Fin whales, 100+ Bottlenose dolphins, 250 Wilson's Storm Petrels, 250 Greater Shearwaters, 300 Cory's Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Immature Gannet.

Click here for photos of the fin whales


Tuesday July 28

Dolphins & More Dolphins

A long ride to get clear of the fog brought us to where we expected to find some cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) and we did. A group of 30 common dolphins spent 30 minutes swimming around us porpoising, riding our bow waves, and giving everyone a good view. We spent several more hours searching and found another group of dolphins nearer to home. They too rode our bow waves, giving people a good view. Totals for the day: 40 Common dolphins, 200 Cory's Shearwaters, 200 Greater Shearwaters, 1 Manx Shearwater, 500 Wilson's storm petrels, and 2 Gannets. 

Click here for photographs

Monday July 27

Camera Shy Fin Whales

Today's good visibility made it easier than yesterday to find whales. Our first blows were seen at 11:30am. The whale blew several times before submerging for more than 10 minutes. Our second whale- a 60ft fin whale- did the same, a few blows and then a long dive of 10+ minutes. Our third encounter was a a fin whale that stayed down for twenty minutes. They were elusive and camera shy but we did see them. Totals for the day- 3 fin whales, 200 Cory's Shearwaters, 200 Greater Shearwaters, 500 Wilson's Storm petrels, 1 Mature Northern Gannet, 1 Parasitic Jaeger, and 1 Sooty Shearwater.


Sunday July 26

Fin Whales in the Fog

Conditions started out well enough with 5 miles of visibility but as we got to the whale grounds mother nature and physics conspired to bring us some fog. The sea surface temperature was in the mid 50's and the fog closed in. After searching the whale grounds, we headed east, then south in an effort to find whales and openings in the fog. We decided to head back and on our way to the dock-just where we expected- we found 3 fin whales. A 70ft cow and her 30ft calf, accompanied by a 50ft individual. We have to give credit to one of our passengers that saw the whale in the fog off the stern. The trip was a communal effort- everyone helped to make it a success. Totals for the day: 3 Fin Whales, 200 Wilson's Storm Petrels, 50 Greater Shearwaters, 100 Cory's Shearwaters, and 1 Gannet.

Click here for photographs

Monday July 20


Another Winner- 25 Fin Whales!


Once again we had reports of whales 18 miles out, but decided to head to the area we had been seeing whales, birds, and bait. Out first whales had been spotted at 11:05- fin whales- just about 10 miles out. We spent an hour with our first group of 9 fin whales then moved slightly to another group of 7. We then went on to observe a widely scattered group of 9 more fin whales. We had whales everywhere we looked and it made for one of our best trips thus far. Today's totals: 25 Fin whales, 200 Cory's Shearwaters, 200 Greater Shearwaters, 5 Sooty Shearwaters, and 100 Wilson's Storm Petrels

click here for photos


Sunday July 19

Whales, whales, and more whales!

We had reports of whales near where we left them last week, so we headed out back that way. We saw our first blows at 11am - it was a mother and a calf humpbacks. There were also fin whales near by and after spending some time with the humpbacks we headed towards them. We saw a total of 7 fin whales including one mother/calf pair that spend some time very close to us. We left them after awhile and checked out the humpbacks again- before calling it a day and heading back home. Our totals for the day were: 7 Fin whales, 2 Humpback whales, 410 Wilson's Storm Petrels, 270 Greater Shearwaters, 113 Cory's Shearwaters, 13 Sooty Shearwaters, 1 Manx Shearwater (near Montauk Point on our way back), and 4 Gannets (bird counts courtesy of Angus Wilson).

click here for photos


Tuesday July 14


What a Trip!!  19 Fin whales just near home!!!

The Viking Star got a report of many whales about 16 miles south of the point today. We headed there and found our first whale just about 10 miles from the point. Within two hours of being there, we had seen 14 Fin whales, including 4 cow and calf pairs!! Our biggest females were nearly 80 feet long and we had at least 4 more whales which were in the 70-75 range. With reports of whales still to the south, we headed out again and found 5 more whales, 2 cow and calf pairs and a singleton, before heading home. In total today we saw 19 Fin Whales, 100 Cory's Shearwaters, 50 Greater Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater and 5 Manx Shearwaters. All in all, it was a fantastic trip!!

click here for photos


Monday July 13, 2009


Fin Whales at Coxes Ledge

The Viking Star headed to Fairway buoy- southeast of Block Island, near the western edge of Coxes Ledge. Whales had been spotted there yesterday and the day before. At 12:09 we saw our first blows- those of a fin whale. There were a total of 2 fin whales- a mother and a calf. The mother was staying underwater 5-12 minutes per dive while the calf was diving for 3-7 minutes on average. We were able to stay with the whales for about an hour, after which we had to head back to the dock. Today's tally: 2 Fin Whales,400 Cory's Shearwaters, 200 Greater Shearwaters, and 150 Wilson's Storm Petrels.

click here for photos


Sunday July 12, 2009

So close and yet, so far…

The Frances Fleet reported seeing humpback and minke whales seen at Coxes Ledge yesterday, we were determined to head in that direction, but had to contend with 4 -5 foot seas rolling from the SW.  We decided to head south to the area where whales were seen last week and then east, providing us with a bouncy ride south, and a better ride east (instead of a potentially bouncier ride by heading ESE from Montauk directly to Coxes Ledge).  While seabirds (our usual assortment of Cory’s, Greater, and the occasional Sooty Shearwater, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, and a few Gannets) abounded, we didn’t find whales and had to turn at 13:10 for the 3 hour trip back to the dock, looking all the while.  Just as we passed near Montauk Light, the Frances Fleet called to report that they found the whales on Coxes Ledge almost 2.5 hours after we left and about 0.5 miles from where we turned around.  We know where we are going tomorrow.  Today’s totals:   ~200 Wilson’s Storm petrels; ~150 Cory’s Shearwaters; ~100 Greater Shearwaters; 5 Sooty Shearwaters; 2 immature Northern Gannets.

For pelagic bird photos from the past two trips, click here.


July 7, 2009

A valiant effort came up short today, with regard to finding cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises).  The Viking Star and its crew of Viking and CRESLI personnel headed to where we had been seeing whales, dolphins, pelagic bird, and many sand eels; but only the birds were in the offing.  While we had reports of dolphins another two hours out from where we were, that was too far to travel, so Captain Carl and Dr. Artie decided to head east (the direction the humpback whales had been slowly heading on Sunday), but to no avail. 

There were plenty of pelagic birds seen on this  first third of the trip, including a Pomarine Jaeger and scores of Greater and Cory’s Shearwaters,  and many large rafts of 50 + Wilsons Storm-Petrels, but no cetaceans or sand eels (at least not the large areas of sand eels patches from the surface to  150 feet down).

We headed South to the 30 fathom contour; then west into the center of Block Channel and then North to Montauk Point.  Once again, the pelagic birds were numerous, including several immature Northern Gannets, and another Pomarine Jaeger just south of the Montauk Point.   No whales, but a good trip any way. The day’s totals were:  100 Cory’s, 100 Greater Shearwaters, 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 200 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels,  2 Northern Gannets (immature), 2 Pomarine Jaegers


July 6, 2009

Whales & Dolphins in the fog


The Viking Star headed toward the area where we sighted whales the day before. On our way we heard of whales near yesterday's sighting spot- they were even closer in today. As we headed into the whale grounds, thick fog rolled in and we had to try to listen for the whales. Once the fog listed, Captain Joe and Naturalist Dr. Artie decided to head towards the reported sightings that morning. In due course, we found 5 humpback whales (including 1 mother/calf pair) some of which were seen by us yesterday. The humpbacks were joined by 60 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and hundreds of shearwaters. End tally was 200 Cory’s, 100 Greater Shearwaters, 20 Sooty, and a few dozen Wilson’s Storm Petrels. Another great trip! 

Click here for photos

See the video below


July 5, 2009

Humpbacks Galore!!

On the inaugural trip of the 2009 Whale Watch season in Montauk NY (our first local regularly scheduled trip in 7 years) the Viking Fleet and the CRESLI crew found several large feeding groups of Humpback Whales about 2 hours out from the dock. We spent 2 hours with a group of 14 Humpbacks including 3 mother and calf pairs who were feeding ferociously on dense patches of sand eels. Bubble cloud feeding, kick feeding and surface lunges were seen almost continuously. On our way to the whales and flying over the bubble clouds and whales were hundreds of Cory’s and  Great Shearwaters, about 75 Wilson’s Storm Petrels, about 20 Sooty Shearwaters ,and a few immature Northern Gannets. Another group of about 15 whales were seen in the distance. Captain Joe returned to the dock at about 3.30pm with some very happy whale watchers. This was a phenomenal start to our 2009 Whale Watch Season so come on out and join us. The Viking Star is sailing every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at 9.30am.

Click here for photos

 
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