#7 Sperm Whales In The Bay

We haven't had too much luck catching up with right whales so far this season. There have been many days where we see a blow or fluke over 2 miles away and then when we arrive in the vicinity, we sit and wait for 20 minutes just to see the next blow another mile off. We have heard from whale watching operators out of Massachusetts that they are seeing a lot of right whales around Jeffreys Ledge, so we are hoping that their arrival to the Bay of Fundy is just slightly belated.

However, we have still had some exciting days out in the Bay over the past week when the weather improved and we were able to survey in flat calm waters. We heard reports from local whale watching vessels that they had seen a sperm whale on several occasions. It was quite a surprise that sperm whales were observed in the Bay, they are typically found in waters over 1,000 feet deep and only close to shore in areas where the continental shelf drops off close to the coastline. Considering near-shore populations were whaled out over 200 years ago, we were anxious to catch a glimpse.

On August 14th, our whale watcher, Yan spotted a blow and exclaimed to the crew that he had a surprise for us all. As we approached, we recognized the distinct blow that veers off to the left hand side, along with the bulbous head, wrinkly dorsal surface and 'knuckles' forward of the peduncle. All in all it is a truly bizarre looking creature. The whale fluked as we watched, and we all expected to be waiting a long time before we saw the next surfacing, as sperm whales can remain submerged for over an hour. While we waited we dropped our hydrophone over the side of the boat, and were able to listen to the remarkable clicks that this animal was emitting.

As we continued our survey for right whales, we encountered two more sperm whales. We have little experience with sperm whale identification. However, it only took an untrained eye to see that all three of these sightings were of different individuals when comparing the trailing edge of their flukes.


Photo/video captions:
1) Sperm whale at the surface - note the distinctive diagonal blow
2) Crew waiting for a right whale to re-surface
3) Sperm whale logging at the surface
4) Flukes of three sperm whales spotted in the Bay of Fundy
5) Sperm whale blow


  1. Cool sighting! Does this mean sperm whale populations are increasing in the North Atlantic do you think?

  2. Not necessarily. I believe that the Gulf of Maine humpbacks are being seen farther south than normal this season, and during the right whale calving season (Dec to March) there were more sightings in the southern survey area than in the past few years. Of course this could be a factor of so many things; sea surface temp, survey effort etc but maybe something is affecting the distribution of sperm whales too.