March 16 – March 23, 2024 

Week 9 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!

It is the fourth week in a row that we have seen a mother and calf that we have gotten to know well, both in the water and above. “Lucky” and “Cookie” (nicknames, not their given names) were discovered again on Thursday amongst the coral heads. While the calf played at the surface, the mother behaved as she usually does by logging on the surface while the guests float nearby. Over the last four weeks we have watched this particular pair become more and more comfortable with our tenders and the guests in the water. The adult female, when coming up from being settled, now comes to us head on where she once turned her back to us before settling again. And now, instead of being shy and keeping a good distance between the guests in the water and herself, the calf comes charging over and playing at the surface. (Photos © Grace Yu)

Lucky, as we have been calling her, seemed to be logging at the surface again, but this time swimming forward slightly. She didn’t seem to mind that we swam right along with her, keeping a safe distance. It was interesting to see how the calf interacted with her mother as they slowly travelled along, gently riding on her back, then rolling off before tucking herself under the pectoral of mom again. It was like watching an active toddler running circles around its mother in the supermarket. To be a part of their lives for the entirety of the morning gave us a look into the mother’s personality a little; especially when she took a swipe at a pesky three foot barracuda with her fifteen foot pectoral. Apparently we are not the only ones that get annoyed with these curious fish. Being that this is the fourth week we have seen these two, it is likely time for them to start their migration up north to the feeding grounds. The calf is much larger now since the first time we were introduced and clearly more confident in her abilities.

Since some of the whales that had come here early in the season to have their calves are now starting to make their way back up to the feeding grounds, we start to see a little bit of change on the Silver Bank. What we call “rowdy groups”, one female with multiple males, becomes a more frequent sighting. This week we came across two such groups that are notable. One of our rowdy groups we saw early in the morning, just after leaving the main ship. The whales were breathing heavily, throwing themselves into each other and coming up with bloody dorsals. All of this is pretty normal in a rowdy group but what made this one particularly unique was the pod of pantropical spotted dolphins that seemed to be getting in the middle of it all! The dolphins were darting in and out of the rowdy group; the male whales didn’t seem to notice or pay them much attention since there was a female to impress close by. Our other rowdy group was much smaller, one female and just a few males, but what made this occasion different was the one challenger that really took an unliking to our tender. The majority of the rowdy group was about fifty feet ahead of the tender…thinking we were well out of the way of the action and in a safe place for observation and photography, the group settled into watching the excitement. Without any notice, a challenger placed itself directly in front and under our tender! The giant fluke came out of the water on the port side and then a pectoral rushed up and out to the starboard side. The tender driver pulled the throttle back and out of gear. The whale, then realizing we had come to a complete stop, reared up, bringing both pectoral fins out of the water on either side of the vessel and didn’t allow us to move! This is what we call an S-Curve, a behavior seen in rowdy groups to stop another challenger in their tracks and make a quick maneuver to throw its opponent in the opposite direction. This is not usually seen as a behavior exhibited towards the tender. All of this happened so quickly, probably mere seconds, but to those on board it felt like minutes.

It was an exciting week with new mothers and calves coming through and some familiar sets as well. We had beautiful sunsets and our bellies were full from the fantastic food on board. It’s hard to picture a better way to spend your time.

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:

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:

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, Scott Davis and Grace Yu