Sunday, June 4rd 2017 Three Humpbacks off Sandy Hook, NJ.

June 05, 2017  •  3 Comments

aSaturday June 4th 2017th. Wave Heights - 1ft, Water Temp - 61, Wind – South East, Speed – light, Air Temp 60. Cloud Cover – Heavy.

Whales seen – THREE Humpback Whales

Its was nice to have a group of photographers out on the American Princess (AP) with Gotham Whale (GW) from the “Long Island Sun Chasers” facebook group. I love seeing all the different gear and techniques on how to capture action shots involving Humpback Whales. I know most of the members of this groups photographic works from seeing it on the “Long Island Sun Chasers” page. Great to see them live and in person with cameras ready for some Humpback Whale action.

It was a nice day out on the water despite the lack of Sun but the Ocean was near flat, winds light and the company was good. We changed up the direction of travel, headed South out of Breezy and went off of North Jersey. The Captains of the AP know where to go and how to go to find Humpbacks. Its not easy, even when you know “exactly” they are there! You can even be on a Humpback, watch it dive down and 20 minutes later your scratching your head wondering where it went. Good news is the Bunker fish that the humpbacks feed on are in the area and on the surface just waiting for a humpback to come by and eat them.

I was in the back of the boat speaking with Paul L Sieswerda the Naturalist on board (a rockstar in his industry and director of GW) and Trish Minogue Collins a member of the LISC. I was in conversation (ALWAYS looking at the water) and saw an apparition way off in the distance. There was no blow but I thought I caught sight of a partial fluke going down on a dive. I told Paul and Trish, we might have a Humpback, don’t broadcast we need to confirm. I informed the captains of what I saw and where. They turned the boat and 10 minutes later "THAR SHE BLOWS" and we were on our first Humpback Whale. Time of first Humpback Whale sighting approximately 3:15pm.   

It was a slow start with this Humpback. It was a nice size and when it dove down it stayed down a little longer than we normally see. That longer down time on a dive gives the whale time to get some distance between us and the whale and we can lose sight of this one quickly, but luckily didn’t. This Humpback also stayed just under the water but out of sight. You could follow where it was going by the footprints it was leaving on the surface.

The Humpback was traveling North back towards where we came from where we know the bunker was in schools on the surface. The whale took a breath and headed towards a dark spot on the ocean. The dark spot kind of looks like an area of water being rained on hard and has a totally different texture than the surrounding water. The Bunker school was starting to get nervous and their splashes and slapping at the surface grew more frequent, and for good reason. The whale was in and under that Bunker school and seconds later an explosion of white water was splashing followed by that Humpback Whale blasting out of the ocean, mouth wide open with Bunker fish flying everywhere. AND THIS IS WHAT WE CAME FOR!!!!

We stayed with this Humpback as it was lunge feeding tearing up those schools of Bunker with every bite it takes.

This whale was somewhat unpredictable, first It was by the front of the boat, then 300 feet away, onto on the other side and then back to the boat and then up front. All the while it was lungefeeding, I lost count but think we had a total of 8-10 lunge feedings.

While this whale was munching on bunker snacks, off in the distance just North of us we spotted 2 other humpbacks but stayed with this one because of the feeding action.

It never gets old being out on a boat for a whale watch. This was a good day for the passengers and photographically a successful day.

 

 


Comments

Paul Sieswerda(non-registered)
GREAT images of lunge feeding....... expansion of the throat to suck in the prey species (menhaden) then the expulsion of the water through the baleen plates to capture the "bunket". That is textbook Lunge feeding....... nice shots.
Trish Minogue Collins(non-registered)
What a spectacular day! It makes me so happy to relive it through your photos and description. Do you take notes while you're out there? Your writing takes me right back on the boat.

That photo where it looks like there are little bubbles by the eye? -my favorite.
Sue Knappe(non-registered)
Great commentary on what looks like a great day out.
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