Subject: Summary data:Center for Oceanic Research and Education Summary Week of 08-14 July 1996 (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 17 Jul 1996 13:11:20 -0400 (EDT)

J. Michael Williamson
   Wheelock College
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.566.7369


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 10:37:31 -0400
From: Yankee Fleet <>
Subject: Center for Oceanic Research and Education Summary Week of 08-14 July 1996 

Below is a summary of the whale sightings for the week of 08-14 July 1996 by
researchers from the Center for Oceanic Research and Education aboard
commercial whale watching vessels out of the Yankee Fleet in Gloucester
Massachusetts.  Our study area includes areas of Southern to mid-Jeffrey's
Ledge and Northern to mid-Stellwagen Bank.

08-14 July 1996:

With fog and haze, sightings were sketchy on July 8, with few whales (four
fin whales and a cow/calf humpback pair) sighted in the morning.  More
whales were sighted in the afternoon including three humpbacks, 12 fin
whales and one minke whale.  Sightings of all species increased drastically
through the period of July 9-11 with averages of 20 humpback whales, 13 fin
whales and several minke whales on Northern Stellwagen Bank.  Significantly
higher numbers of minke whales were sighted in the afternoon trips.
Sightings decreased on the 12th with the impending tropical storm, most of
the whale activity had moved south or offshore. No trips departed on the
13th, with storm conditions prevailing thoroughout New England. On the 14th,
several fin whales and humpbacks were sighted near shore on Southern
Jeffrey's Ledge. 

The humpback whales were commonly observed bubble cloud feeding for extended
periods.  More surface activity was also observed during this week, with
several breaches, tail-lobs and curiosity behavior toward boats.  Most
noticeably, during the morning of July 10th, there were six cow/calf pairs
on Northern Stellwagen Bank!  The mothers were actively feeding, while the
calves spent most of their time frolicking on the surface.  Most of the
splashing and play behavior observed was exhibited by the calves.  

Fin whales were observed lunge feeding at the surface, but more often than
not, we surmised they were deep feeding.  Fish could be observed at the
surface, all of the feeding appeared to be on small (3-6") American Sand Lance.

Bird activity has also been fabulous with herring gulls, greater
black-backed gulls, ring-billed gulls, laughing gulls, common terns, greater
shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, two manx shearwaters, Wilson's storm
petrels, and seven Northern gannets (including one adult).  Only two basking
sharks were observed during this period and one ocean sunfish.