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In the Great South Channel

August 2017

Our 19th trip to the Great South Channel in the past 17 years was another amazing adventure.

Risso's dolphin, 8/14/17 in GSC

Monday, August 14, 2017

All photos from the August 2017 Great South Channel trip: Day 1

We arrived in the Great South Channel around daybreak, the air was crisp and cold and the seas were calm. We were 59 nautical miles (nm) almost due east of Oak Bluffs, and 35 miles east of the northern tip of Nantucket. Shortly before 6:00 AM we saw our first cetaceans, a pod of about 40 Risso's dolphins (Grampus grisseus). These relatively rare dolphins (estimated 11000 in the Western North Atlantic) were a great way to wake up everyone.

8 nm to the NW, and a little over an hour late, we encounter our first of 59 humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae), an hour later and 4 nm to the NNW we encountered about 300 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). One hour later and 8 nautical miles to the NW, we find our first of nearly 100 minke whales (they were everywhere we went for the 30 hours in the GSC), and a few minutes later we begin to see more humpbacks, including Wizard (27 year old female) and Northstar (identified by its massive gash just in front of its dorsal fin). From that point on we continued to see humpbacks, minkes, and thousand of shearwaters (4000 Great, 80 Cory's, 300 Sooty, and 6 Manx) and thousands of storm petrels (~1000 Wilson's and 7 Leach's). The whales and others were either searching for or eating sand eels. The sand eels were patchily distrbuted and whenever whales began to feed, they would be beset by shearwaters, gull, and terns, waiting for the "left-overs."

We saw bubble-ring feeding by single humpbacks, as well as by cooperative groups. The entire repetoire of feeding behaviuors and surface active behaviors, as well as trumpet blows were seen and heard. Fog encased us on occassion and we traveled east to try and escape it, but there were few birds, no bait and no whales, so we headed back and the fog had disipated, we were once more amongst the whales, and kept finding more. Eventually over the course of an area bounded by radius of 3 nm, we found whales for the next 8 hours.

Our Captains (Steven D. Forsberg and Dave Geller) moved the vessel away from the shipping lanes and we difted vernight with the tide. .

humpback feeding on sand eels in the GSC, 8/14/17

Breaching humpback GSC, 8/14/17

Open-mouth feeding humpback GSC, 8/14/17

Cosmos and her 2017 calf GSC, 8/14/17

Photos from

Day 2 - August 15, 2017

All photos from the August 2017 Great South Channel trip: Day 2

At 6:00 AM, we headed 5 nm south to where we found whales previously and again, we found them. Some were the same, and there were new whales also: Circuit, Face-off, Treasure, Phosphorescence, Music, Conflux, Glo-Stick and calf, Colt, Stub, and Drip had not been seen on the previous day. The conditions were spectacular, clear, calm, and wonderful. Again, we were treated to the full panoply of behaviors including some calves that were repeatedly breaching. 4.5 hours later, the time had come to head back to Oak Bluffs and eventually back to Montauk. What a trip!

Humpback named Condensation, 8/15/17

Minke whale, GSC 8/15/17

Humpback close approach, GSC, 8/15/17

Laughing gull on rostrum of humpback, GSC, 8/15/17

 

There's room so please join us on our next trip (August 13-15; 51 hours long) August GSC trip information and links


TOTALS FOR THE TRIP

59 Humpback whales (44 identified and 15 unknowns)
~100 Minke whales
300 Short-beaked common dolphins
40 Risso's dolphins
4000 Great Shearwaters
300 Sooty Shearwaters
80 Cory's Shearwaters
6 Manx Shearwaters
1000 Wilson's Storm Petrels
7 Leach's Storm Petrels
5 Pomarine Jaegers
2 Jaeger sp.
6 Northern Gannet
6 Double-Crested Cormorant
10 Common Terns
50 Laughing Gulls
100 Herring Gulls
50 Great Black Backed Gulls

 
We have now had 1215 humpback encounters in our trips to the Great South Channel, Stellwagen Bank, and locally. With the assistance of Laura Howes of Boston Harbor Cruises, the Gulf of Maine Humpback group, Dr. Jooke Robbins of the Center for Coastal Studies, Allied Whale, and the FlukeMatcher groups on Flickr and Facebook, we have photo-identified 450 different whales during these trips.

Click here to see a list of all humpbacks from CRESLI trips since 2002
Click here for a gallery of our identified humpbacks from 2002-2017

August 14-15, 2017

IDENTIFIED HUMPBACKS
Alligator
Bandit
Buzzard
Canopy
Canopy '17 calf
Circuit
Colt
Condensation
Conflux
Cosmos
Cosmos '17 calf
Crystal
Deuce
Dice
Dome
Draco
Drip
Epee
Equals
Face-off
Fray
Ghost
Gladiator
Glo-Stick
Glo-Stick '17 calf
Infinity
Jupiter
Kappa
Kickoff
Lobo
Lollipop
Multiply
Music
Northstar
Osprey
Peninsula
Phosphorescence
Samovar
Samovar '17 calf
Scylla
Shards
Stub
Treasure
Wizard
15 Unknowns



For more information on humpback whales, click here.

For links to earlier sighting reports and photos from Great South Channel trips, click here.

 

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