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In the Great South Channel
Monday, July 17, 2017:
Our 18th trip to the
Great South Channel in the past 17 years was another amazing
adventure. In fact, it was one of the best of all time.
Our morning began with fog, humpbacks, and minke whales. We often heard whales but couldn't see them.
Every once in a while, the fog would lift to 1/2 mile of
visibility and we would find feeding humpbacks.
Bubble-ring open-mouth feeding on tremendous quantities of
sand eels. We could see the sand eels in the bubbles are they
rose to the surface.
The patchy fog continued for
about 5 hours. As it began to lift, 2 humpback whales began
an encounter that nobody on board could ever forget.
The two whales engaged in what is called a "curious
approach." For one hour then swam up to the Viking Starship
and watched us. They swam on our side, next
to each other, their heads facing the vessel and their long
flippers out fully on the sides, almost touching. They
would remain on the side, logging, then dive under the
vessel to come up on the other side and do the same thing.
Sometimes they woukld transit from the sides to the bow or
stern, then back. Sometimes each would swim parallel
to the vessel and look at us (we could see that their eyes
were open), they often would roll over to get a better look.
That was the first 1/2 hour.
The next 1/2 hour was even
more magical. Both whales, individually and in tandem spent
the last half hour spy hopping almost within arms length of
the Viking Starship. Not one of us, including those with 30
years of experience have ever seen this kind of prolonged
"whales watching whale watcher" interactions.
Take a look at the video
below for a short version of these magical interactions
COOPERATIVE FEEDING GALORE
Once the fog lifted we could see whales in every direction. They were engaged in cooperative bubble-ring feeding.
Amazingly, the group closest to us had 20 whales feeding
together, and other groups were of similar size. We
estimated that there were about 80 whales within a 3/4 mile
radius. Unfortunately we could only spend time with
HERE COME THE DOLPHINS
The feeding whales were
joined by an aggregation of 100 offshore bottlenose
dolphins. What a sight to behold, as the jumping dolphins
joined in the feeding fray.
After a few more hours, our
time had run out and we needed to get going for the 12-13
hour trip back to Montauk. We were in awe. Even though
we saw a limited number of whales, the behaviors we
witnessed werespectaular and won't be forgotten.
If you want to see more
photos from that trip, please go to the link below.
Photos from the July 17, 2017 GSC trip
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/strong>
33 humpback whales (27 identified and
10 minke whales
100 offshore bottlenose dolphins
500 Wilson's Storm Petrels
20 Leach's Storm Petrels
100 Cory’s Shearwaters
500 Great Shearwaters
25 Sooty Shearwaters
10 Manx Shearwaters
We have now had
1135 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, the Center
for Coastal Studies, Allied Whale, and the FlukeMatcher
groups on Flickr and Facebook, we have
photo-identified 430 different whales during these
Click here to see a list of all humpbacks from CRESLI trips
Click here for a gallery of our identified
humpbacks from 2002-2017
For more information on humpback whales,
For links to earlier sighting reports and photos from Great
South Channel trips,