Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Whales are still here!

P.D. and her 2008 calf in Grand Passage!

Even though we haven't been whale watching since October 14th, that doesn't mean that the whales are gone. Normally, the whales leave here by this time to make their way to the Caribbean for the breeding and calving season which takes place in the winter. For some reason, there were still four that hadn't made that journey yet. I'm sure there are more as I have been hearing the odd report that whales are still being seen from shore.
Today these four humpback whales were seen in Grand Passage, the body of water that runs between Brier and Long Islands. It was easy to identify them from shore as they were quite close. They were P.D. and her 2008 calf, Flame but I was unable to identify the fourth individual.

Hmmm, maybe we stopped whale watching too soon!

Four humpbacks in Grand Passage!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October Winds

Greetings everyone! Our season has ended for 2008 and it was a great year overall. Never before have we recorded as many calves in the Bay of Fundy as we did for this year. At season end we had 24 new calves in the Bay but sadly, we lost 2 of those. They were the calves of Rooftop and Spoon.
The photos above show one of the reasons why we end our season in October. These photos were taken at Pond Cove on Brier Island. The first photo show what happened when such high seas meet. Amazing!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Orca in the Bay of Fundy!

Oh did I forget to mention that on September 20, 2008 we sighted an Orca in the Bay of Fundy? It was travelling with a small group of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fabulous Whale Watching!

Whale watching continues to be fabulous with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. Our calf count is currently at 23! This is a record number for the Bay of Fundy as the average sightings of mother and calves is usually no more than 5 per season. Although the last few years there has been an increase. The latest mother to arrive in the Bay of Fundy with her calf has been Kalimba. She has been sporatically sighted in the Bay of Fundy since 1991 and this appears to be her first known calf .

On a sad note we lost one of our calves. A small humpback whale washed up in Delap's Cove, Nova Scotia. Jack Tattrie sent some photos to me of the identifying pattern on the underside of the flukes and it was matched to Spoon's 2008 calf. We are not sure what happened but it is under investigation.

Spoon's 2008 calf on September 5, 2008

Identifying marks on the right fluke.

On a much happier note, there are plenty of whales around Brier Island to see. On September 28th, we recorded 21 individual humpback whales and 1 right whale. Keep in mind that every trip is different and we never know what we're going to see.

Breaching Right Whale

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The latest news from Brier Island

Good day everyone. So sorry for the long delay in the updates! The Bay of Fundy still continues to be a hot spot for whales. The September weather is very good for whale watching with bright sunny skies, excellent for scanning the water for whale spouts! The list of new calves continues to grow with the latest mother who has arrived in the Bay being Three Dots. This calf is the second for her that we know of, the first being in 2004. Our calf count is now at an amazing 21 which far exceeds any other year!
We have had new whales arriving in the Bay daily. One is an individual that has yet to be identified. We were able to get some excellent photos of the whale as it stayed with the boat for about an hour! It semed to like the water streaming from the wet exhaust of the generator! It turned on its side to have a look!
Other whales that have been sighted lately are: Champagne, Cornucopia, Clipper, Foggy, Colorado, Flame, Hopper, and Haze and her calf.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An overdue update!

Greetings from the Bay of Fundy! Whale watching continues to be active and interesting with many sighings of humpbacks, a few fin whales and minke whales. We were very excited to add another mother to our ever growing list. The latest mother and calf were to arrive were Spoon and NAHWC#8324. Spoon is actually the 19th mother that we have documented. If we are to sight one more, we will have exceeded last year's record which is quite remarkable!
The humpback whales that we see here are part of the Gulf of Maine population of humpback whales in the North Atlantic. There are reports off 77 calves that have been documented in this population which is an excellent number!
New whales are being sighted daily such as Filament, Filigree, Collision, Jurassic, Churchill (at left) and Sigma. To date, we have sighted 124 individual humpback whales.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sightings are Great!

Whales a plenty! We are just amazed at the number of whales that continue to frequent the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy and we seem to be seeing different individual humpack whales everyday. We have now documented 17 new calves to the Bay of Fundy. Although not quite to last year's record of 19, we still have a bit of time to go and anxiously await to see if there are more to come. THe Gulf of Maine's entire population, of which our whales are included, is around 800 humpbacks. We have had a report that the calf count is now at 77, an all time high! THe latest mothers to arrive to the Bay of Fundy are Vibes and NAHWC#0034.

Our sunset cruises have been awesome with lots of activity! Sockeye continues to amuse us and we have had a new friendly whale join the ranks. His name is Scream and the last time we saw him was in 2006. We are so glad that he retuned to the Bay of Fundy!

There has been an increase in sightings of right whales the last few days. This species is usually found in the Grand Manan Basin which is about 20 miles north from Brier Island so they are not usually seen on our cruises which are only about 5 miles from the island.

We have identified some new humpback whales in our area. They are: Vee, Ase, Churchill, Scream, Wigwam, Arch, Peajack, Cone, and Slingshot.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Humpback Whales in Grand Passage!

What a way to celebrate our anniversary! Much to everyone's surprise and delight, four humpback whales came through Grand Passage from St. Mary's Bay and continued through the passage into the Bay of Fundy. Whales will travel through occasionally but usually the smaller minke whales. THe shoreline was lined with spectators and the ferry slowed so that their passengers could have a look. We were able to obtain excellent photographs and we were able to identify them as Flash, Frost, Cone, and Tusk!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The month of "Fogust"

Luna tail lobbing

The fog continues to linger over the Bay of Fundy! We have had a bit of reprieve and have been delighted with the amount of whales that are present near Brier Island. Spouts from the whales could be seen and heard in every direction! We were able to identify many of the individual humpbacks and were pleased to document some new calves! Our calf count in the Bay of Fundy is now at 15. The latest new mothers to arrive in the Bay are: Bungee, Clamp, Milkyway, and Teather. Sadly, we have to report that the last time that Rooftop was seen, she did not have her calf with her. Other humpback whales that have been sighted are: Doublet, Tusk, Sickle, Hopper, Cloud (the oldest whale of known age, born in 1977 to Istar), Peajack, Pendiente and Tigris.

We will be celebrating our 22nd anniversary on August 22nd and will offer our guests a great discount at $22 plus tax per person! Not an offer to be missed!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It can't get any better than this!

What a spectacular cruise! On August 8, 2008 we were treated to every type of humpback whale behaviour that can be seen on the feeding grounds! First of all, we watched Rooftop and her 2008 calf. Both approached the boat as if to inspect it and then the calf started to tail breach which is when they throw their tails out of the water and land on their sides. It did this several times and very close to the boat. We were never in any danger and in fact, our guests were very proud of the fact that they got splashed by a whale!

While we were watching them, the captain noticed two whales breaching the distance so we headed in their direction as they continued that behaviour much to our amusement. It is amazing to think that a 40 ton whale can have that much power in their tail to lift that enormous body that far out of the water.

We have also been pleased to see Sockeye for the last couple of days in the Bay of Fundy. He is a rather odd looking whale as he has an under bite making him look like a sockeye salmon, hence the name. He is known to be very curious and approached the Mega Nova giving us a very good look at his lower jaw.

It really cannot get any better than this!

Sockeye's under bite

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lacuna - The star of the season!

Eye to eye with a humpback whale!

Our whale watch cruises have been excellent with sightings of humpback whales everyday! And even in the fog! Though more difficult to locate the whales because of the reduced visibility, the end result has never been disappointing thus far! The star of the season so far has been Lacuna, an adult male that we have been sighting here in the Bay of Fundy since 2003. He has turned out to be a very curious individual and will often approach our whale watching boats. On a couple of occasions he has rubbed the bottom of the boat with his back. We knew at all times that we were never in any danger. At one point, our guest were playing music to him and he was very interested in the sound approaching very closely to where the sound was emanating. The Captain was on the bow watching the whale and sat on the pulpit which is at the bow of the boat. Lacuna surfaced under him and Spouted directly under him, surrounding Harold in a cloud of whale spray! We like to think that this was deliberate!

Another favourite has been Rooftop and her 2008 calf. The calf has also turned pout to be very curious and will often flipper slap and roll next to the boat.

Playing music to Lacuna!
Other humpbacks that have been identified are: Python, Cirrus, Quote and calf, Sunburst and Patches.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some Friendly Humpback Whales

Nine's 2008 calf coming in for a close look

The last few days have been very interesting on the Bay of Fundy. We have seen a few humpback whales move closer to Brier Island and we are documenting new individuals every day. To date, we have documented 53 individual humpback whales including 8 new calves. The latest to be brought to the Bay was Nine and her calf. Nine has only been sighted here one other year and that was in 2006 and she soon became a favourite among all of the crew because she turned out to be a very friendly whale often approaching the boats in curious behaviour. Her calf has also learned this behaviour from its mother and was very curious of our boats, the Cetacean Search and the Mega Nova. The calf would spyhop and roll and its eye appeared to be on the occupants on the boats. It truly is an amazing experience when a whale chooses to do this and something you'll never forget!

Our anniversary day was very successful. We celebrated our 22nd year of whale watching by offering an amazing discount which will be offered again on August 22 and September 20, 2008. The price per person is $22 + tax, a very good opportunity to see these whales in their own habitat. On July 22nd, it was very windy and choppy but we were able to get all of our cruises out that day. We documented a few new whales such as Littlespot, Lagoon, and Fan. Shark was active much to our delight. She would roll on her side and slap her long pectoral flippers on the surface of the water in a resounding smack. It is not known why these whales do this but there are many theories such as for communication, feeding purposes or to knock parasites off the flippers.
On Wednesday, our cruises were privileged to be visited by Lacuna an adult male who has been coming to the Bay of Fundy since 2003. He treated the Cetacean Search as if it were a bath toy, pushing on it with his nose. We were never in any danger, humpback whales are after all our gentle giants.
The fog still looms over us but our trips have been phenomenal!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Whales in the Fog!

The fog continues to loom over us, however we have ahd a few beautiful sunny days. As I mentioned in a previous post, the fog can hinder us a bit as it takes a bit longer to locate the whales but we are usually successful in finding them. On yesterday's cruise, the fog cleared just enough that we were able to see 4 different humpback whales including a mother and calf and two individuals that were hanging out together. The new mother was identified as Touchdown, and the other two were Flash and Notchy.

The calf was very entertaining as when Touchdown went for a deep dive, the calf would linger at the surface and inspect our boat and its occupants. At at point, the calf breached (jumped) next to the boat much to the excitement of everyone!
Calf rolling next to the boat.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sightings to July 11th

The Bay of Fundy is working its magic. Not only has the fog disappeared but some humpback whales have moved a little bit closer to Brier Island which makes for some fantastic whale watching. Fog did not get the best of us though, as we have had some good sightings. Two days ago, we located one of our adopt a whales, Rooftop with her third calf! Other adopt a whales have been sighted as well are Flash who was seen on July 10 and Shuttle (Shown at left) who
was sighted today, July 11. Other individuals
that have been identified are Parrot, Istar,
Puppet, Highlighter (at right) , Gremlin, Sauron,
and Willow. This makes our total identified humpback whale count at 34 for the 2008 season.
Bird sightings have been of Greater Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, Northern Fulmars, Northern Gannets, Wilson's Storm Petrels and a few Red Necked Phalaropes have arrived.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The foggy days of summer!

Fin whales

Whale watching has been great even with the ominous fog that seems to be lurking over our island. You may think that you wouldn't see anything in its blanket but thanks to our honed hearing skills, we are ever so tuned to the sound of their blows in the fog! We locate the whales usually by their spouts but due to reduced visibilty we listen for the sound instead. We have mostly been seeing minke whales but lately we have also been sighting fin whales as well. Fin whales are the largest type of baleen whales that come to the Bay of Fundy. They can be up to 80 feet in length and weigh about 70 tons.
The humpbacks are still about 15-18 miles away but there has been singles sighted close to the island. On June 26, we made a survey cruise to that area and documented 17+ humpback whales. We recorded two mother and calf pairs. The moms were identified as Mets and Spar.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And the winner is.....

Every year we wait with bated breath as to the arrival of the humpback whales and who the first identified whale will be. Humpback whales are individually identified by the black and white pigmentation patterns on the underside of the tail. No two are the same, much like our own fingernails. Even though we did sight a mother and calf pair previously, her identity remains unknown. On June 14, we travelled 15 miles northwest of Brier Island to an area called the Prong and spotted 3 humpback whales in that area. The first identified humpback for 2008 was none other than Mr. Burns! This adult male was first sighted near Brier Island in 1995 and has been seen here every year since. He was born in 1988 to Petrel. Mr. Burns also has the distinction of being one of the whales that you can adopt in our adopt a whale program, supporting the research that we conduct annually.
Mr Burns and Clutter, two humpback whales sighted on June 14.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The first week of whale watching

Welcome to the 2008 season of whale watching. Our first cruise of the season was on June 1 and like most beginnings our sightings have been mostly of minke whales. Minke whales are the smallest type of baleen whale that we see here in the Bay of Fundy. They measure 15-30 feet in length and weigh about 10 tons. So far the minkes that we have seen have been very curious of the boat much to the delight of our passengers!

On June 6, we sighted our first humpback and it was a mother and calf pair! Humpback calves are born in the Caribbean and are brought here by their mothers to feed in the nutrient rich waters of the Bay of Fundy. We haven't been able to identify the mother yet by the underside of the tail but we will definitely keep you posted as to who was our first humpback of the season!

Humpback mother and calf!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

High tide - Low Tide

The Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world and it is these tides that make the Bay of Fundy one of the best areas in the world for whale watching because of the water rushing over ledges which creates upwellings that bring nutrients to the surface. These nutrients in turn feed larger plankton, whci is food for small schooling fish and all of that is food for the whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds.

In the many fishing village that are on the Bay of Fundy, it is not uncommon to see the boats high and dry at low tide but not to worry, the tide always comes back about 6 hours and thirteen minutes!

Our whale watching boat "Mega Nova" at low tide and high tide. At Brier Island the difference between high and low tides is 16 to 20 feet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just What does the boat do in the off Season?

Mega Nova on "dumping day"

That's a question that we get throughout the summer. The Mega Nova was built in 2002 with a dual purpose in mind. As we all know, it carries passengers in the summer season but from the end of November to May 31, it participates in the District 34 Lobster Fishery. The company's owner, Harold Graham is Captain, with a crew compliment of 2. At the beginning of the season when the catch is most plentiful, he has extra men onboard to help with the various tasks, such as banding the lobsters.

Landing traps. Taking lobsters out and rebaiting.

Kirk Peters banding the catch