January 27 – February 3, 2024 

Week 2 of our 33rd Season

This year Aquatic Adventures embarks on its 33rd season of providing our guests the unique opportunity to encounter the North Atlantic humpback whales on their breeding and calving grounds, the Silver Bank. As the season unfolds, we’ll highlight some of the various encounters and experiences of our guests each week. We hope you enjoy following along!

More than 50 percent of our passengers this week are returning guests. Some have not been here in the last seven years; others are returning for their tenth anniversary of visiting the Silver Bank. For the crew, it’s like having a boat full of your old friends. The guests here that are experiencing the whales for their first time find themselves in a unique position where everyone around them has some unique story or experience to share. 

The first full day out on the bank, we get into the water with a mother, calf and escort. The little calf is a curious one and comes very close to the guests; with so many having in-water experience already, we are all relaxed in the water and get an amazing view as the mother comes up to receive her calf and pull her away from us. We enter the water a few more times with this pair before realizing that the escort that is accompanying them seems to be jealous and keeps pushing mother to move; poor girl, can’t catch a break!

So we leave them and move on to some top side activity… a mother and calf breaching together in unison. Beautiful!  Before we head into lunch, on the other side of our mooring area we spot another mother and calf pair. Again, we are able to slip into the water for a fly by, but then she stops and hovers near the surface with her calf right in front of us. The escort is below us, weaving in and out of the coral, keeping one eye on us floating above. Before we know it, the clock says it’s 1:30 pm and we better head in for lunch!

Over lunch we compared some of our photos and fluke shots of the whales we came across previously. It turns out we have our first ID’d whale of the season from last week! “Noche”, who was here in 2022 and now in 2024 with a calf! Noche gets her name from the #5 fluke she has (a #5 is an all black fluke). We hope she sticks around the area for a little while so we can watch her calf grow in strength and prepare for the migration home to the Gulf of Maine. Stay Tuned!


On Tuesday, the wind shifts to the west which means that the protection from the coral heads has been removed. The high swells make it too dangerous to load our tenders alongside the main ship, so this morning has a slight delay until the sea conditions are more favorable. Guests are gathered in the salon waiting patiently and going over their encounter photos. Finally the winds shift and the swells are knocked down, making the seas almost glass-like. The day is warm without the wind, so it is a relief when we find a single whale that we’re hopeful will allow us into the water with it. We are timing its surface breaths… it seems to be coming up every 16 minutes but not far from where it went down, which means it’s not sleeping, but it’s also not traveling far. We approach the last fluke print of where the whale sank beneath the surface and that’s when we hear the undeniable song of the humpback song through the hull of the boat. It’s 1:30 pm… time and time again we get into the water to listen to his song. As the afternoon carries on, the whale begins to come closer and closer to us every time he surfaces.

Now, to be clear, it is not 100 percent known that only the males sing; honestly there doesn’t seem to be a reason that the females shouldn’t also sing. Due to popular belief and past studies, we do take liberties in assuming that most singers we come across are in fact males. 4:45 pm comes quickly; we have called over our sister tender and have been taking turns all afternoon with our singing companion. Unfortunately the day is coming to a close and we will have to leave our afternoon entertainment… but he was “whale” worth the wait.

Sometimes the best is saved for the last. It’s Thursday, our last day on the bank this week. The morning is full of what we call “blow and go’s”. Plenty of whales around but none interested enough to let us get into the water with them. Around 10 am our tender Challenger is working a mother, calf and escort. The mother is displaying some interesting behavior. Raising her fluke in the air, we see it, for a lack of better words, wiggle back and forward before coming down onto the surface. This gave us an excellent opportunity to get a fluke shot and after a little investigating, we find out that this whale is one that’s well known from the Gulf of Maine. Her name is “Clamp” and the wiggle in her tail is a trade mark as she is a whale known for kick feeding, a behavior seen when feeding up north. When kick feeding, a whale raises their fluke high into the air and brings it down hard on the surface to stun their prey.

After contacting the Center for Coastal Studies, we also learned that this is her 7th calf and her mother is a whale called “Apex”. The last time Clamp was observed in the Gulf of Maine, she was thought to be a little larger than usual and showing signs of pregnancy. Well, now we can confirm that she was pregnant and now has a healthy calf. The guests enter the water to have a brief moment with Clamp and her new calf. The pair (and an escort) swim by, turn and circle back to the tender. This behavior continues long enough for the second tender, Escort, to be called in. Clamp and her calf seem to be relaxing more and more with every encounter until she is allowing us to spend multiple minutes with her in the water as the escort stays close. By this time, the whales have moved into the dense coral where the water depth is closer to 40 feet deep. Each encounter now is clear, close and has a backdrop of coral heads; truly a remarkable and beautiful sight. What a way to end an exciting week!


The Aquatic Adventures team hopes that you are as inspired as we are to help sustain the humpback whale population. Through our partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies, we are helping to gain critical information on these charismatic creatures, and to seek ways to protect and preserve them. To find out more about this effort, join their mailing list or to make a donation, large or small, please visit: www.coastalstudies.org/aquaticadventures

We are proud to support SeaLegacy in their efforts to create powerful media to change the narrative around our world’s oceans. Their mission is to inspire the global community to protect our oceans. To learn more about SeaLegacy and help with this important mission, please visit: https://www.sealegacy.org

Thanks to all who have generously donated!

Learn more about Aquatic Adventures here.

Written by: Aquatic Adventures team member Gillian Morin
Edited by: Aquatic Adventures team member Heather Reser 

Images: Paula Cho, Kecia Duffy, Gabriella Gerhardt, Sabrina Habbe, Leslie Rapp, Heather Reser