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Sun July 24 – Whale Watching

Dolphins, pelagic birds, sharks, and a heartbreaking sight: a very ill humpback whale

It’s a heat wave, but you can keep the heat and I’ll take the wave. There are few better ways to beat the heat than with a whale watch! The high heat and humidity on land gave way to cool offshore breezes. We were treated to early views of pelagic shearwaters, which continued throughout the trip. The waters were choppy, so we decided to change direction to minimize wind and maximize sightings. As if on cue, we immediately stumbled upon a hammerhead drifting next to our vessel. Shortly after, a small group of short-beaked common dolphins spent time near our bow before we headed off in search of larger residents. Although the wind quickly dissipates the blow from whales, a spout was sighted and investigated. Upon arrival, we found a humpback whale very different from ones typically sighted. This individual was reddish/brown in appearance and was drifting slowly at and just beneath the surface. Upon further inspection using zoomed-in photographs taken of the individual, the humpback appears to be infested with cyamids, tiny crustaceans found only on the bodies of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Since this is an indication of distress, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) was immediately notified. AMCS reported the whale and its location to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency responsible for protecting whales under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Although humpback whales in the northwest Atlantic are no longer considered endangered thanks to decades of conservation efforts, they are subject to entanglement with fishing line and gear which can severely weaken and/or drown the individual. NOAA and AMCS will continue to monitor this situation. As we returned home, a small group of bottlenose dolphins were spotted close to shore, wrapping up another successful trip. We sail every Wed and Sun until Labor Day; book your trip today!

Photos at

60-80 Great shearwaters

1 Cory’s shearwater

1 hammerhead (likely a smooth hammerhead)

4-6 short-beaked common dolphins

1 humpback whale

3 bottlenose dolphins

a bird in a body of water a whale jumping out of the water a whale jumping out of the water a man riding a wave on a surfboard in the water a person riding a wave on a surf board on a body of water