Local Whale Watching 2021
With Viking Fleet of Montauk, NY
By: A. H. Kopelman, Ph.D.
Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays 2:00-7:00 PM, June 26, 2021 through September 05, 2021.
2020 - 100% SUCCESS (12 OUT OF 12 TRIPS); (see our sightings blog below)
98.2% SUCCESS SINCE JULY 2017 (54 OUT OF 55 TRIPS)!
SINCE 2009 - 93.87% SUCCESS RATE IN FINDING CETACEANS (153 OUT OF 163 TRIPS)
Join the crew with over 30 years of whale watching experience. Come away with great memories, great photos and videos, and an education about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and marine life that is second-to-none.
Please note that the Viking Fleet supports CRESLI's work through in-kind donations of providing the vessel and vessel crew, and some funds per trip. We are eternally grateful to the Viking Fleet for our decades of collaboration
- The Viking Fleet and CRESLI are offering special family friendly marine cruises focusing on the sights of the ocean! Enjoy a day on the water with your family looking for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds and sunfish. Along the way you can view the Montauk lighthouse and all the landmarks of the east end.
- A qualified naturalist / marine biologist will narrate the tour and answer all of your questions!
- The Viking boats are equipped with clean restrooms, comfortable seating and full galleys onboard. We recommend reservations. You can either do so by phone (631-668-5700) or https://vikingfleet.com/activities/whale-watching/
- The trips will depart the dock at 2:00 PM and return at 7:00 PM
Whale Watch tickets: https://vikingfleet.com/activities/whale-watching/
The fare for these trips is $80 for adults, $50 for children 5-12y/o, FREE for Children under 5y/o
Whether our trips take place are dependent upon weather and sea conditions. Be sure to check the Marine Forecast for the waters around Montauk
2021 CRESLI/Viking Fleet Whale Watch Naturalist's Sightings Reports will be available shortly after each trip.
|July 18, 2020||August 22, 2020|
|July 25, 2020||August 26, 2020|
|August 1, 2020||September 2, 2020|
|August 8, 2020||September 5, 2020|
|August 12, 2020||September 6, 2020|
|August 19, 2020||September 13, 2020|
4 humpback whales and massive schools of Atlantic menhaden (bunker).
Great way to start the season!
The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 24th consecutive season of whale watching trips just where we left off, i.e., finding whales. We had reports of whales that morning (seen from shore by our naturalist, Dr. Artie Kopelman, and heard in the fog aboard the Viking Starship that morning by the intrepid Viking Fleet mate, Joey Ferguson). We also had reports of dolphins west of town. Out we headed and within a short while we were past Montauk Light looking for cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). Shortly thereafter a fog bank rolled in and we continued on and listened for blows. Eventually the fog lifted and we found ourselves in the midst of many massive schools of bunker. Here we encountered feeding humpback whales. Two juveniles were photographed and we had brief glimpses of 2 others.
A wonderful start to the 2020 season.
3 humpback whales, 1 minke whale and more
Our 2nd trip of the 2020 season didn't let us down. We had reports of whales from several places and began our trip with a great plan. With excellent visibility and conditions, we found our first whale within 40 minutes from passing Montauk Light, a humpback. This whale was busy searching for food 100' down and would rise to the surface after a few minutes, blow 5-6 times and dive. We stayed with the whale until it tail slapped and we decided to head further. We headed ENE towards and found our 2nd whale about 1 hour later. We'd seen it from ~1.5 miles away and when we got near the area, it popped up just under our bowsprit. Luckily we were almost at idle speed. A minke and a thrird humpback joined us shortly thereafter. This last whale had significant Orca raking scars on its dorsal fin and flukes. We encountered other species duringour travels including 3 Ocean Sunfish, 1 jumping White Marlin, about 40 Wilson's Storm Peterels, and about 40 Great Shearwaters
4 humpback whales - 18 and 10 consecutive breaches at the end of our trip! Nice way to end the afternoon.
Our 3rd trip of the 2020 season was one for the books. Again, we had reports of whales from several places and began our trip with a great plan to survey an area not far from Gurney's. Excellent visibility and conditions allowed us to see blows from really far. Our first stop was ~6nm (nautical miles) south of the Lighthouse, where we had seen blows from about 1.5 nm away. Those whales were gone, so we headed west (2 nm) and found the first of 2 whales, one seen on the 7/18/2020 trip (MTK.2020.07.18-01). Our 2nd whale was one we had seen on the 7/25/2020 trip (MTK.2020.07.25-02). We also encountered an aggregation of about 100 Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal Stock (AKA inshore) bottlenose dolphins.
We had the priviledge of staying with these whales for over 2 hours, watching them dive for food at the sea floor, rising up 3-7 minutes later and resuming their dives. Both whales we juveniles and both had signs of previous entanglements. One whale had a tuna lure hooked into the left splashguard region (side of the blow hole). We were ready to leave and the whales began breaching simultaneously, each one on each side of the vessel. We stayed with MTK.2020.07.25-02 and it breached 18 times in 8 minutes, while MTK.2020.07.18-01 breached 10 times. Wow! The tubercles on the leading edge of a humpback's long pectoral flippers provide hydrodynamic lift and allow these whales to rise through the water column at steep angles without stalling, hence reducing the energy needed to breach.
4 humpback whales - and 2 minkes.
Within 30 minutes of passing Montauk Lighthouse and within 10 minutes of the crew “on-station” to look in earnest for whales, we saw our first blows. Our 1st humpback was one we had seen last week as well about 8 nm (nautical miles) to the SSW and only about 4 nm from Montauk Lighthouse. This was the first of our 4 humpbacks and 2 minke whales of the day. Our 2nd humpback was 2 miles away at first and joined the other whale in feeding at depth on bunker. We saw massive bunker pods at the surface, but they were only the upper boundaries of giant 80’ thick plumes of bunker. Our minke whales joined in briefly. A while later, several miles away, we found our last 2 humpbacks
Bird counts thanks to David Chernack
3 Humpbacks and about 300 NW Atlantic Norther Migratory Common Bottlenose dolphins
WOW what a trip!
We had reports of whales around they Midway Buoy and within an hour we found out fist whale, a humpback we hadn’t seen before. A short while after staying with this whale, we came upon our first groups of NW Atlantic Norther Migratory (AKA “In-shore”) Common Bottlenose dolphins. At least 3 groups interacting and seemingly driving massive groups of prey. The groups dolphins would work together, with some driving forward and others turning to produce vortex-like field which formed a large circular slick. The dolphins would converge and chaos would occur. Our second groups of dolphins, over 180 of them joined in the fray. Were they feeding? We never saw them with prey in their mouths? We they mating? This we did see. So about 300 dolphins did this for nearly 2 hours.
Then we found our second humpback, another new one for us. It was breaching, followed by the typical flipper slapping. 20 minutes and a total of 18 breaches, interspersed with flipper slapping bouts. We had to head back to the dock and passed another humpback on the way in but couldn’t stop. Well we hope to see it again.
Humpbacks and more Common Bottlenose dolphins
A special day for many reasons
As usual, we were headed to where we had seen whales on our previous trip. We were lucky enough to encounter a very special whale, Nile’s 2016 calf.
Three weeks ago this 4 year-old calf was found severely entangled in 3900 pounds of cable and line about 10 miles out of New York Harbor. He had just enough slack to allow him to surface in breath. It took the disentanglement teams three days to get him out. Our sighting of this juvenile whale with the first since he was disentangled. The disentanglement was a joint effort of many institutions, they’ve been notified of our sighting and are elated! He is scarred severely but is feeding and seems to be moving quite well we have our fingers crossed. By the way, we also saw him in 2018. Read about his disentanglement here
Other humpback whales and minke whales were seen, but only three humpbacks were photographed on this trip including NYC0085 (also seen last year) and a new whale we call MTK.2020.08.19-04.
As in last trip, we also encountered inshore bottlenose dolphins, but this time in small groups. Maybe a total of 120 that were working to catch prey and we saw mating too. It was a special day and we hope for the best for Nile’s 2016 calf.
5 Humpbacks and about 60 Common Bottlenose dolphins
Today's trip couldn't have started out better, with a humpback whale in Block Island Sound before we even made it to the ocean! This was a small humpback, about 24 feet (7.3 meters), probably less than 1 year old, by itself about 1 nautical mile NNW of Montauk Point. We stayed with this whale for a short while and then headed out to find others.
It wasn't long before we found Nile’s 2016 calf again. We stayed with this 4 year old malefor some time and were able to get additional photos documenting his injuries. As we did a few days ago, we shared these photos with the Center for Coastal Studies Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) personnel and others and are glad to hear that his wounds are healing well.
4 other humpback whales and 1 minke whale were seen. As in last trip, we also encountered inshore bottlenose dolphins, but this time in even smaller groups.
Whales and dolphins! 40 minutes of inverted lob-tailing by 1 humpback
A few hours before our trip, Dr. Artie Kopelman (CRESLI president and senior scientist/naturalist) observe several humpbacks from shore at the western end of Montauk. High winds from the NNW helped us to decide to head west to look for whales. Right near Montauk Point we encountered 2 whales, a minke and a humpback. The humpback was diving for 9 minutes at a stretch, and the minke was almost impossible to see . After 3 minutes with these whale, we continued westward to find a small group of bottlenose dolphins. We ultimately turned to have the wind behind, and shortly later, we found a humpback we'd see on 8/19/2020 and 8/18/2019, namely NYC0084. In 2019, it was breaching, today (8/25/2020), it was lob-tailing for at least 40 minutes, almost non-stop.
Breaching, lob-tailing, flipper slapping humpback and more!
Our 9th trip of 2020 was difficult at first, but ultimately it did not disappoint. Just as in the past few trips, a small humpback would blow and dive, with dive times over 10 minutes long. We stayed with this whale and a few inshore bottlenose dolphins but decided to head off and search elsewhere. It took a bit but just before 4PM in the distance (2 nautical miles) we saw a humpback lob-tailing (slamming its tail on the water) over and over again. We reached it and it continued lob-tailing, the whale eventually rolling onto its back and began flipper slapping, also repeatedly. In a short while, it began to breach repeatedly, interspersed with flipper slapping and logging (resting). Wow, what a wonderfully array of humpback behaviors to see. This whale in MTK.2019.07.31-01, a whale we saw on 7/31/19 1.34 nm ESE of where we saw it today.
Another amazing trip with humpbacks breaches and peduncle (tail) throws!
It was another great day of whale watching. Calms seas greeted us as we headed out past the Montauk Lighthouse. Soon after, we came upon a small humpback giving use may views as it was feeding close to shore as there were Atlantic Menhaden (commonly called bunker) everywhere. After everyone had plenty of views and pictures of this whale we headed south in search of more whales. We came across our second humpback of the day giving us some blows and not much else but we could see another humpback off in the distant putting on quite a show with lots of splashing. As we got closer, we had great views of our third humpback of the day with full-body breaching and lots of peduncle throws. Memory cards and cellphone certainly were filled up today.
Oh my, 60 bottlenose dolphins and 8 humpbacks in al!
It was a little bouncy as we headed out in search of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). We headed directly to where we had seen the whales yesterday, but we couldn't find them at first and we headed to another area. It took some time, but we decided to head NNE and Captain David Marmeno found a whale about 2.3 nautical miles (nm) from where yesterday's whales were. Once we found our first whale, we began seeing MANY more. We encountered one of Saturday's whales and stayed with and photographed 3 others within 1.1 square miles. We also encountered multiple groups of inshore bottlenose dolphins, about 60 individuals in all. On our way back to Montauk, we kept seeing more blows from 5 more whales within 1 nm in every direction but none directly in front of us. We wish we had more time. We will try again on Saturday September 12,2020
Humpbacks, dolphins, and shearwaters! Oh my!
Our last 2020 trip continued our perfect season (100% success). Once again, our first humpback was a very small and elusive one, surfacing for a single blow and submerging for 9-11 minutes. We saw it fluke, but were never able to get photos of this whale. We headed on our way and encountered about 100 inshore bottlenose dolphins. Heading further east, we found our next whale, a juvenile humpback we'd seen back on 7/25/2020. We met up with another group of about 45 inshore bottlenose dolphins before coming across another humpback, one we'd originally seen on 7/31/2019, and again on 9/2/2020. The prey items in the water column were often very dense and either extended throughout the water, or hung to the bottom. We saw more shearwaters than we'd seen in a while, often circling above the surfacing whales.
Purchase tickets here https://vikingfleet.com/activities/whale-watching/
CRESLI is a non-profit organization as defined in section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All Contributions are deductible to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of the last financial report filed with the Department of State may be obtained by writing to NYS Dept. of State, Office of Charities Registration, Albany, NY 12231