2015 Facebook Photo Contest
2015 was an incredible Cape Cod whale watching season. There was so much food in the form of sand lance or sand eels throughout the year that we had active feeding whales from the beginning of our season in April to our last trip in October. It was spectacular to witness the ecology of Stellwagen Bank at its most productive.
Humpback, finback, and minke whales were sighted throughout the season with occasional appearances of Atlantic white-sided and common dolphins. We saw harbor and gray seals on many trips. Some bonus sightings included Basking, and blue sharks, and giant ocean sunfish or Mola molas. Tens of thousands of seabirds: shearwaters, fulmars, gannets, jaegers and others often accompanied the whales during feeding.
At the close of every whale watch, we ask our passengers to post some of their favorite pictures on Facebook and at the end of the year we pick our winners! We wanted to share what our winners captured on their 2015 whale watch adventures. Enjoy!
Apryle Panyi snapped a photo of a humpback whale calf breaching. This shot captures the barnacles around the head and mouth that help distinguish baby humpbacks. The barnacles were inherited from the mother and will fall off in the calf’s first year!
Humpback whales often corral schooling fish using bubble clouds, nets, or rings. The bubbles help concentrate the prey into a tight ball. The whale comes up from beneath and takes an enormous gulp of fish and seawater into the lower jaw that is then filtered through the baleen. Michael de Graff’s photo illustrates this behavior in dramatic fashion!
Peg Monahan Sargis stopped time as a finback circles a food source. look behind the whale and you can see calm circular patches called “fluke-prints” on the water that were caused by the up and down movements of the whales tail. The second largest animal on the planet, finbacks rely on speed and stealth to make dramatic lunges through schooling fish. This individual is creating its own wake!
Passenger Emily Hassett claims a prize for this photograph of a baby humpback whale spy-hopping to take a look around! Some humpback whale behaviors such as lob-tailing and flipper-flapping can be repetitive, offering set up time to a photographer. Spy-hops are often one-time behaviors that go undocumented. This photo was a great get!
Trina Collins Sexton gets up close and personal with a humpback whale straining its catch. Notice that the right side of the animals jaw has been rubbed raw from repeated bottom feeding efforts. The whale dives to the bottom and uses one side of the jaw to excavate sand lance or sand eels from their burrows! You can clearly see the rows of baleen hanging down from the upper jaw and the pink palate on the roof of the mouth in this awesome shot!
Sometimes a great photo is being at the right place at the right time! Chris Hackney had both things going for him when he captured the spirit of whale watching with this incredible shot of humpback whale-“Hancock” in a full breach off the bow
Jenny Childs Berry captured the spirit of whale watching in another way and reminds all of us who the most important whale watchers really are! The next generation of both whales and whale watchers. Great shot!
We are excited that we saw more selfies posted this season! Whale selfies are tough to capture for a number of reasons so we applaud everyone’s efforts! It’s hard to keep it together during the action to compose a shot. Rob Stinson kept his cool at close quarters and captured this humpback whale calf breaching during a close boat approach!
Nick Fitton caught another perspective of a humpback whale calf in a close boat approach. The boat is out of gear and the animal is safe to explore our vessel and to take a look up at us! Whales eyes look forward and downward so the calf must roll on its side to people watch as this animal is doing!
A great shearwater gracefully glides above the water. An open ocean species rarely seen from land, great shearwaters breed in the southern hemisphere and follow seasonal productivity into the North Atlantic. They follow marine predators like whales in hopes of getting a free lunch as food is pushed to the surface! John Keator snapped this beautiful shot in the fall near the end of our season.
As this posts, we are only a little over and a half months from our first trip of the 2016 season. We hope to see you aboard!