I went on a pelagic trip out of New Jersey with the Buffalo Ornithological Society in search of pelagic birds. However, as a cetacean lover, I knew I was going to keep an eye out for whales and dolphins too. We set out at 10pm on 8/11 to enter deep waters and started birding at around 5am on 8/12. We were greeted with a few Storm-petrels (Wilson’s, Leach’s, Band-rumped) but our first cetaceans were Cuvier’s Beaked Whales, a species I was hoping to see since we were in deep water.
The small pod of 5-6 swam as the sun’s warm rays were setting on the water. We set out to find other marine life in the area and happened upon 3 different pods of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins within an hour.
A couple had calves with them too! Some were bow-riding, and others were breaching and flipping out of the water.
Our next cetacean encounter was another new species to me, Short-finned Pilot Whales. Just like with the Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, we saw many pods of these larger cetaceans.
A Risso’s Dolphins were also mixed in with one of the Pilot Whale pods.
Unlike the other cetaceans, the Pilot Whales we encountered were mostly logging up at the surface of the water. This gave many people plenty of opportunities to photograph these amazing cetaceans.
Our final cetacean encounter was with a species I am most familiar with: Humpback Whales.
At the same time this was happening, the naturalists aboard found a pretty exciting pelagic bird: a few White-faced Storm-Petrels. Luckily they were within the relative vicinity of one another, and I managed to get great photos of both species. The White-faced Storm-Petrel is probably one of my new favorite birds because of the way they hop on the water! The Humpback Whales we got a good look at were a mother and calf pair! This pelagic trip was truly a marine life (both birds and cetacean) bonanza!