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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Other Sea Life

Baleen Whales

Humpback Whale
Minke Whale
Sei Whale
Fin Whale
Blue Whale
Right Whale


Baleen Whales

Blue Whale

Balenoptera musculu





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Blue Whale Dave Jones

Dave Jones photograph of Blue Whale starting a dive on the June 2010 BBC continental shelf edge trip. Dorsal fin visible in the picture is located on the back 1/3. Notice blow holes not visible.

Atlantic Ocean Blue Whales?
 I used to think that the chances of seeing Blue Whale off the coast of New England were slim to none. Years ago I saw a juvenile Blue Whale on an offshore trip. After seeing two Blue Whales on the June 2010 BBC trip to the continental shelf edge, I think your chances are still slim, but better than none. Long offshore pelagic trips are your best bet for seeing Blue Whale in New England waters.

In the summer there is a regular migration of Blue Whales that can be seen from shore or from whale watches on the northern coast of California. To improve your chances of seeing a Blue Whale go whale watching in northern California in the summer.

Blue Whales swim in all oceans in both shelf and pelagic waters. Most migrate to warmer waters in the winter. I saw several on my trip to Antarctica in 1999.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Atlantic population of Blue Whales
“In the North Atlantic, two stocks of B. m. musculus are recognized. The first is found off Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This group is estimated to total about 500. The second, more easterly group is spotted from the Azores in spring to Iceland in July and August; it is presumed that the whales follow the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the two volcanic islands. Beyond Iceland, blue whales have been spotted as far north as Spitsbergen and Jan Mayen, though such sightings are rare. Scientists do not know where these whales spend their winters. The total North Atlantic population is estimated to be between 600 and 1,500.”

Largest Living Animal
The Blue Whale the largest animal living on earth. It was thought to be the largest ever until recently a new species of dinosaur was found that may be even larger than the Blue Whale. Blue Whales in the Atlantic tend to be somewhat smaller than those in the Pacific Ocean. The largest ever killed and recorded by whalers was 100 feet in length and weighed nearly 200 tons.

This is a modified photo in which a Blue Whale is compared to the length of a whale watching boat.

The most outstanding feature of the Blue Whale other than its size is the light gray color of the head, back and tail. The blow is a tall column that appears single despite the presence of two blow holes. There is a small sickle shaped dorsal fin that sits far back on the whale's body. When the whale surfaces the dorsal fin should not appear until well after the blow hole.

The flippers are small relative to those of the Humpback Whale and pointed like those of the Fin Whale. I do not remember seeing the flipppers of any of the Blue Whales I have seen.

The head is "U-shaped" when viewed from above and relatively flat when viewed from the side. The Blue Whale is a baleen whale with throat groves. Blue Whales often raise their triangular flukes when diving. Only young whales breech.

BBC 2010 Continental Shelf Edge trip
This trip was remarkable for the sighting of 2 immature Blue Whales actively feeding and coming to the surface only to breathe. These three pictures and the one at the top of the page were taken by Dave Jones.  These whales were actively feeding and only coming to the surface to breath. I remember the sounds of the whale’s blow being very loud. 

Blue Whale Dave jones Blue Whale diving  Dave Jones
Blue Whale Dave Jones

In the left picture above the whale has just surfaced and you can see the baleeen plates in the partly open mouth.  The object at the right side of the front of the baleen appears to be a wave..  If you are using a tablet use your fingers to zoom the picture. 

The right hand picture shows the whale is starting to dive.  The dorsal fin is now visible, but the blow hole is under water.

In the picture to the left, the blow is complete and the whale is starting a new dive.  Notice that the dorsal fin is not above water.  Use your zoom feature to observe that the blow hole is double like all Baleen Whales.

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Folkens, Peter (2002) Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Alfred A. Knopf New York

Kinze, Carl Charistian (2001) Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic Princeton University Press Princeton NJ