Whales, Cownose Rays and Dolphins in the Western Bight
Saturday July 15th 2017. Went out on the AP with GW. I haven’t been on the water since last Sunday’s GW-AP whale watch and whales have not been around for a few weeks. The Dolphins have been around and they have picked up the slack in the whales absence here in the Bight. Over all, the summer has been great so far for sightings of both whales and dolphins and its just getting started.
Great day to be out on the water. Temp low 80’s, Water temp 74, waves small and the winds were light.
We charge out of Breezy and real quick, after passing the jetty, we met up with a small pod of dolphins and they weren’t interested in us and gave us the slip, so we moved along looking for whales.
The Bunker were everywhere on the surface, this is first time since last fall the bunker were in big numbers like this! The sounder was recording a solid mass of bunker 50ft deep in 65 feet of water and they were packed together tight on the surface. When the bunker are in these tight schools pressed up to the surface It looks and soundes like rain falling on the water. It is crazy but you can actually smell the fish before even seeing them. All this is awesome news because these large bunker schools are the dinner bell for Humpback Whales to come and feed.
Traversing the Bight, looking down in the water, Cownose Rays were flying by in the ocean. There were many, and they ranged in size from napkin size to 3ft wide. Some were finning and sunning others would dive down and move away from the boat, always cool sight to see.
Moving along looking for whales we saw a splash, then a blow and we have Humpback Whale. This whale looks like it was coming in from the deep and just started to feed on the thick schools of Bunker aka Menhaden. It did a few lungefeedings gobbling up as much bunker it can, one gulp at a time. The whale took a break from feeding and then started breaching in succession One-Two-Three and then a Fourth! This whale really likes to get some air, it launched itself almost all the way out of the water with the last breach being the highest. The breaches were about 150 feet away and the splash and white water was gigantic with that sound of a big whale hitting the water, its loud.
The whale came to the surface took a breath and then started pectoral fin slapping. I like that, it’s a different look and you get to see their eye and sometimes the whale is looking at you. The whale was heading towards the boat, must have sensed it was getting close stopped the slapping and dove under.
Between it all this whale was all over the map, one minute the whale was on the left, then in the front, back to the right, now to the back. There was a little lull, the whale was last seen off the port bow side and without any notice a full on backwards breach paralleled with the boat on the starboard bow side 30 feet from the boat. WOW…THAT was scary close, extremely close, so close that I could not get the shot with my 300MM. Passengers on the front of the boat got splashed and I thought I was going to get wet also. The whale went back to Lunge feeding a few more times and then it was time to go. WOW what a freaking day!
Looking at the fluke shots of this Humpback, it is a “new whale” to the NYC area! I gave it a number, it is now documented as #NYC0059 in the Gotham Whale “NYC Humpback Whale Catalog”. WHALE HELLOOO Nice to meet you NYC0059, I will see you around!
Just reading that gets my heart pounding--- and the photos! WOW- that's a whale I have to meet. Happy birthday to you!
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