Subject: Summary: Center for Oceanic Research and Education

Yankee Fleet (
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 14:45:42 -0400

Below is a summary of the whale sightings for the week of 15-21 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.

Fog and wind are the words for this week!  Several trips were cancelled or
had lower than expected sightings due to poor sighting conditions.  Even
with the poor weather, sightings of humpback whales remained quite high with
an average of 10 through the period, while fin whale sightings dropped off
considerably compared to previous weeks with an average of only 2 per trip.
Minke whale sightings were quite low, as expected with rough sea conditions
and/or fog, with an average of only one per trip.  Also sighted during this
week, on July 17th, were a small pod of 15-20 Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
This pod represents one of only five pods sighted since our season began in
late April.

The humpback whales were observed resting at the surface, as well as bubble
cloud feeding for extended periods.  Surface splashing activity was also
observed during this week, with several breaches, tail breaches and
tail-lobs . There was much movement during this week with sightings as close
as 4 miles from Gloucester harbor and as far away as 31 miles away toward
the southern end of Stellwagen Bank. A new mother calf humpback pair were
also observed, bringing the total up to 9 so far this season.  Also sighted
during this week were two fin whale mothers and calves.

Fish could be observed at the surface, all of the feeding appeared to be on
small (3-6") American Sand Lance.

Bird activity also dropped a bit this week, which can also be expected with
reduced visibility.  Birds sighted were herring gulls, greater black-backed
gulls, ring-billed gulls, laughing gulls, Bonaparte's gulls, common terns, a
royal tern, greater shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, Wilson's storm petrels,
and several Northern gannets.  Several basking sharks were also observed
during this period as well as two harbor seal pups.