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Exciting Ending Encounter Exceeds Expectations
Tuesday established the Research Department’s fourth Ultimate Whale Watch of the season. With the recent storm front moving through, we were unsure how the experience would turn out for guests and researchers alike. After a quick breakfast and research presentation, all Ultimate Whale Watchers headed down to Ocean Liberty to begin our 2 hour whale adventure. The skies were compact with clouds yet the seas proved smooth.
Overall, we spent time observing 9 separate pods of whales, with multiples of other pods surrounding us at any given moment. Our encounters ranged from a whale exhibiting pectoral flipper slaps on the water, a subadult approaching Ocean Liberty within 10 feet, a calf breaching repeatedly, and several whales interacting in a competition pod.
We also came across an evasive diving whale and deployed our hydrophone (underwater microphone) to eavesdrop. The whale song emitting through the speakers was extremely loud. We listened long enough for the song to halt, and this singing whale to surface for a breath. After a few exhalations, the whale lifted its fluke in preparation to dive, and the song started again.
Our exciting ending encounter exceeded expectation. A little calf swam near its mother with a male escort on the outskirts. In addition to these three humpbacks, two bottlenose dolphins were seen associating with the calf. Upon their approach, the calf and its mother swam directly under our vessel. This was about the same time rain tried to spoil our enthusiasm, but with whales and dolphins encompassing the vessel, nobody gave the rain much esteem. As we turned our expedition back to the harbor, everyone bundled up and a series of breaching whales sent us on our way!
Back at the office, researchers began to process the bottlenose dorsal images as well as some humpback fluke photos taken on these trips. Things ended in excitement as the research staff established that we have seen the same whale, 8 days apart, on two separate Ultimate Whale Watches!!