February 17 – February 24, 2024 

Week 5 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!

We have reached the Silver Bank for our fifth week of the season! The whales are extremely active when we arrive and on our first day out we immediately come across a mother and calf, a rowdy group and a few sleeping pairs. It’s a very busy first day with beautiful encounters and a lot of sunshine. None of the whales, however, seem to be staying in one location; perhaps it’s the amount of whales around that keep them ‘blowing and going’, as we like to call it. Still, with the whales appearing like they have somewhere to be, we are able to get into the water on flybys and watch as they closely glide by. 

Exhausted from the day’s activities, the guests enjoy a well cooked dinner, a delicious dessert and settle in for one of our presentations. Every night after dinner, the Aquatic Adventures team does a twenty minute presentation on one of four subjects; behaviors, anatomy, migration and conservation. The ‘behaviors’ presentation covers a wide variation of physical displays that are witnessed here on the Silver Bank’s mating and calving grounds.

One of the most beloved and sought after behaviors to experience first hand, is the singing whale. Thought to be only displayed by the males, the majority of singing humpbacks will tilt their bodies so that their rostrum (forward part of the body) is facing towards the ocean floor and use its specialized larynx to move air back and forth to create the most interesting noises. Researchers have recorded these displays year after year and have discovered that, indeed, each whale in the Atlantic population is “singing” the same song, complete with themes, phrases and notes. They have also discovered that this song will change every year, all at once but no one is quite sure who changes the song and why. Perhaps it is a sharing of generational knowledge or maybe a way to solicit other whales. No one is completely sure. It is, however, without a doubt the most sought after behavior by our guests. When a tender finds a singer, it is usually because a single whale has been spotted, not moving very far from the place it has come up to take a breath and is staying below the surface for an average of twelve minutes. When pulling up to a whale displaying this particular behavior, squeals, squeaks and baritones are heard through the hull of the vessel. Once in the water and over top of the singing whale, those baritone notes are then felt as vibrations travel through the water column and into the bodies floating at the surface. The vibrations are sometimes so strong you can feel them even standing on the hull of the tenders. Two days this week we were lucky enough to be in the water with a singing humpback whale and each time the song was slightly different; not in phrases, but the way the whale was singing the song, which shows that even though they are all singing the same tune, all have a slightly different way of singing it. I suppose we can relate it to a night out at karaoke with friends; same song, but sung very differently by all. 

Another interesting behavior that provides an up close and personal encounter is a sleeping duo. Two whales, presumably a female and male are resting close to the bottom. The male, on occasion, is known to do what we call a perimeter check where he comes to the surface very close to the guests, circles us and then heads back down to the resting female below. It is a special moment when you realize a 45 ton whale is staring right at you and trying to decide if you’re a threat to his ability to mate with this female or not. A resting whale on average stays down twenty two minutes, so there is a chance of the male doing a perimeter check more than once. The whales we were in the water with on Wednesday were down for an impressive twenty eight minutes! The record; forty two minutes.


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: Aquatic Adventures, Carrie Culp and Hillary Leonard