Local Whale Watching 2020
With Viking Fleet of Montauk, NY
By: A. H. Kopelman, Ph.D.
2020 CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watching
begins July 1, 2020 - Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
Join the crew with over 30 years of whale watching experience. Come away with geat memories, great photos and videos, and an education about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and marine life that is second-to-none.
- The Viking Fleet and CRESLI are offering special family friendly marine cruises focusing on the sights of the ocean! Enjoy a day on the water with your family looking for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds and sunfish. Along the way you can view the Montauk lighthouse and all the landmarks of the east end.
- A qualified naturalist / marine biologist will narrate the tour and answer all of your questions!
- The Viking boats are equipped with clean restrooms, comfortable seating and full galleys onboard. We recommend reservations. You can either do so by phone (631-668-5700) or https://vikingfleet.com/activities/whale-watching/
- The trips will depart the dock at 2:00 PM and return at 7:00 PM Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from July 1, 2020 - early September
- The fare for these trips is $75 for adults, $49 for children 5-12y/o, FREE for Children under 5y/o
2019 CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watching reports
2019 - 95.8% SUCCESS (23 OUT OF 24 TRIPS)
97.67% SUCCESS SINCE JULY 2017 (42 OUT OF 43 TRIPS)!
SINCE 2009 - 93.38% SUCCESS RATE IN FINDING CETACEANS (141 OUT OF 151)
CRESLI/Viking Fleet 2019 Whale Watch Blog
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Basking shark, Ocean sunfish, and dolphins!
We started out just where we left off, still finding cetaceans on every trip - ~70 short-beaked common dolphins.
What a gorgeous day to be on the water. While it took sometime before we found interesting animals, we did indeed find all kinds of critters. A small basking shark was our first aquatic vertebrate and the first seen by many of our passengers. Shortly thereafter we found a small ocean sunfish that gave us great views of its swimming and jumping capability. A short while later we found our first aggregation of
about 30-40 short beaked common dolphins. This group was loaded with lots of, you guessed it, small dolphins. moms with calves and loads of juveniles.
Many of the adult dolphins were engaged in mating, a rare sight for most people. Perhaps that's why the young ones were all together. Our second aggregation of 30 dolphins were similarly "engaged." We also were able to find Wilson's storm petrels, Great shearwaters, Cory's shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters, and Manx shearwaters
70 Short-beaked common dolphins
1 Basking shark
Friday, July 5, 2019
A Big Minke Day
Today's Viking Fleet/CRESLI Whale watch started off with a dramatic fog bank that sweep over our boat as we were leaving the Montauk area. The thick fog soon fell away and we progressed through calm seas and sunny blue skies for the rest of the day.
1 Loggerhead sea turtle
25 Wilson Storm Petrels
1 Great shearwater
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Humpback whales, Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, and ocean sunfish!
What a special day we had – our first humpbacks of the season. The day was sunny, breezy, and chilly enough in the shade to make most of us wear sweatshirts, in other words a welcomed relief from the heat and humidity. We heard reports of whales off the Nappeague stretch, as well as further offshore. The NE winds helped us decide to head westward and we found whales off Ditch Plains. We first encountered a really small humpback, perhaps a calf or yearling. It was busy with searching for food on extremely long submersions. Later a larger humpback appeared and we stayed with it long enough to get excellent fluke shots and see some typical humpback behaviors. As we followed this whale to eastward for several miles, while doing so we had a brief encounter with a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and an ocean sunfish. A nice day in every way!
2 Humpback whales
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Finback whale! 1st of this season, and another ocean sunfish
We left on a warm afternoon, looking forward to relief from the heat and to find whales. Both were accomplished. As soon as we got past Montauk lighthouse, we felt relief from the stifling heat on land. We had reports of whales inshore around Montauk and Cap’t. Dave saw a whale in the morning right where we had seen one on Sunday. The hazy fog and limited visibility made our task difficult. We eventually decided to head offshore into areas with more visibility. There we were able to find our 1st fin whale of 2019, a young (no more than 40’ long) and hungry one.
It was spending 9-13 minutes down feeding at 60-80 feet beneath the surface. We got great views and stayed with this whale until it was time to head back in. we came back late, but it was worth it.
1 fin whale
Friday, July 12, 2019
Minke Whale on a Beautiful Day
|We left Montauk harbor today with beautiful blue skies and good visibility to search for whales and had just enough of a swell to give the passengers an exciting "ride". We cruised along the south shore of Montauk and enjoyed great views of the bluffs and hills. As usual we saw some pelagic seabirds, either skimming the waters or diving for fish and although we were several miles offshore we also had many butterflies fly past the ship. |
We then came upon a Minke whale, about 5 miles south of Montauk town. It surfaced several times in a few locations around the boat. Since there were patches of small fish under the ship we assume it was actively feeding. After leaving that whale we continued to cruise towards the southeast towards where we had recently seen whales, but had no luck with for the rest of this day.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Humpbacks Galore! Lunge-feeding, breaching, flipper slapping, and more
Our first multiple humpback trip. Once again, we escaped the heat on land to find whales in water that was comfortably in the mid to upper 60's. We began looking as soon as we traveled past Montauk light. Within a few minutes we found our first of 4 humpbacks. This one was intent on long feeding fives of prey near the surface and traveling due east without changing course. We got some nice views and ID photos and headed west to find more. Did we ever.
We found one humpback lunge-feeding on bunker (Atlantic menhaden) with an occasional breach thrown in, as usual - spectacular to observe and hard to capture. We stayed with this animal for quite some time. This humpback was oblivious to us and once lunge-fed within a foot or two of our port bow.
Eventually we needed to head back, but were stopped when we encountered 2 humpbacks logging (resting at the surface) together. At first, from afar we thought it might be a mom and calf, but these animals were almost the same size (one just slightly larger) - so not a cow/calf pair, but clearly an associated pair. One of the pair rolled over and flipper slapped for a bit. What a great trip - so many typical humpback behaviors, and so many people on board who had never seen a whale, let along 4 humpback whales, a blue shark, and an ocean sunfish.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Well, it was bound to happen. After 29 consecutive trips with whales or dolphins since July 2017, we were unable to find them today. The haze and occasional limited visibility made it difficult to spot then from a distance. We covered 45 nautical miles in our search but no whales or dolphins. There was bait, bunker, and a few pelagic birds, even an unidentified shark, and an ocean sunfish, but no cetaceans. We will try again on Friday 7/19/19.
One plus was the cool sea surface temperatures that kept us in sweatshirts, while folks were sweltering on land. Another plus was seeing a submarine heading out to sea.
Friday, July 19, 2019
Back with the Whales!
We are back on track! Found bottlenose dolphins and fin whales!!
Today we left Montauk with clearing skies and a cool breeze. We traveled south and within an hour saw some splashes in front of us. This turned out to be a group of dolphins. These were the first bottlenose dolphins we have seen this year and they crossed right in front of our bow. The group stayed very tightly together as they moved around the boat, sometimes "porpoising" out of the water. We stayed with them for some time before moving onward.
After another 45 minutes we spotted our first whale; a large fin whale. Fin whales are the second largest of the whales and second largest animal on the planet. We watched it as it continually dove down (we assume to feed on the thick bands of small baitfish under the boat) and surfaced with that long conical blow so characteristic of fin whales.
After proceeding south from Montauk we came upon 2 more fin whales, again feeding through thick bands of baitfish, about 50 feet below the surface. We finished our day cruising back along the south shore, close in to the cliffs and bluffs, before rounding the point and returning to Montauk.
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Once again we headed out to find whales, and as soon as we got past Montauk Lighthouse and onto the Atlantic Ocean, we were out of the heat! Sea surface temperatures were in the upper 60’s, a welcome relief.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
100 bottlenose dolphins to start, humpback and more bottlenose to end!
When we start our whale watch trip with unlimited visibility on sunny dry afternoon, we have great expectations. We hadn’t even gotten past the Lighthouse when we found a massive aggregation of inshore bottlenose dolphins – over 100! We watched and followed as they were chasing their prey, driving them into tight circles and then diving. Adults, juveniles, and new born calves were all around us. What a beautiful sight.
We left them to continue their journey and ours, and headed towards where we had been seeing humpbacks whales for the past few weeks. We found a good sized humpback and stayed with it, observed it, photographed its dorsal fin and flukes for ID purposes. We were in neutral and ready to leave but the whale had other plans, it decided to swim right up next to us, along the port sight, then under us, and come back on the starboard side. Needless to say, we couldn’t move until the whale moved away. Nobody complained.
We headed a bit further offshore and began to encounter pelagic birds, rafts of Cory’s shearwaters, a few Great shearwaters, and a few aggregations of Wilson’s storm petrels too. Shortly thereafter we found a pair of whales swimming together. As we found a few weeks ago, these whales, staying right next to each other were not mom and calf, as you might expect, but of similar size (about 36 feet (11 meters). We were able to stay with them for quite some time and got great photos, videos, and recollections. Again, almost nobody on board had seen whales or dolphins before and were just as happy as can be.
115 Bottlenose dolphins
Friday, July 26, 2019
Bottlenose dolphins, Minke whale, and Finback whale!
Today's CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watch left Montauk Harbor with clear blue skies and calm seas. Cruising for less than an hour southeast of Montauk we came upon 2 groups of dolphins. There were about 15 bottlenose dolphins all told and we watched them for 45 minutes as they socialized around the boat. These dolphins all were side by side as they put on an energetic display. They were splashing, spy-hopping, "lob-tailing" and did back flips in the water. Their behavior was all about social bonding and perhaps establishing dominance within the group. Our passengers took some great photos of the dolphins with the cliffs of Montauk in the background.
Sunday, July, 28, 2019
Bottlenose dolphins to start; humpback to end
We had a long trip today with a sold out boat. We escaped the heat right away as we turned east at the jetty. Found 2 small groups of Bottlenose dolphins and a small ocean sunfish just west of the Lighthouse. We search nearshore and offshore, didn’t find much else until we began to get head back toward Montauk. At 6:30 we saw something flash off in the distance and the blow of a humpback about 2 miles ahead of us. It was doing inverted lob-tailing, partial breaching, tails throws, etc. and as we got closer a small fishing boat ran super-fast right to the whale, stopped way too close. The whale reacted by diving and tail-throwing once – then took off to the southwest, with 5-6 minute down times and just surfacing a few blows each time and heading away. Had that vessel not harassed the whale, it would have continued its behaviors. It was spectacular to see this active whale, but to see it chased down by those jerks in the small boat was upsetting to all. All-in-all, a long but successful trip. Even though we got back at 8:10 PM, people loved it. BOATERS, REMEMBER TO NEVER CHASE DOWN WHALES! GIVE WHALES THEIR SPACE!
10 Bottlenose Dolphins
1 Humpback Whale
1 Ocean Sunfish
3 Wilson Storm Petrels
1 Great Shearwater
Great Black-Backed Gulls
Wednesday, July, 31, 2019
3 Humpbacks, pod of bottlenose dolphins, and a minke whale!!
Once again, we left the sweltering heat and cooled off almost immediately after leaving the harbor (sea surface temperatures have been in the upper 60's to low 70's for a while). We headed towards an area where dolphins had been seen earlier, but they had move on, as nomadic dolphins almost always do. We then headed off towards one of our known whale feeding areas, and there we encountered 2 large humpbacks swimming, diving, and obviously feeding together, we also see a small pod of bottlenose dolphins. We see a third humpback. The 3rd whale heads North and we stay with the pair. Their prey are in bands from the surface to 50' below, and they're spending feeding below and occasionally defecating at the surface. One of the whales is a known whale from the Gulf of Maine, Komodo, the 2007 calf of Rune, the other remains to be identified. We headed in search of the 3rd humpback but were unsuccessful but eventually found a minke whale, just before heading back to the dock. An amazing time for everyone.
15 Bottlenose Dolphins
3 Humpback Whales
1 Minke Whale
5 Wilson Storm Petrels
Sunday, August 4, 2019
Whale Trifecta! 2 Minke whales, 5 humpback whales (including a mom and calf), and a finback whale! 8 whales in all!
What do you get when you have unlimited visibility, flat seas, and good eyes? Lots of whales. Shortly after heading out past the Lighthouse, we spot our first whale, a minke whale. They are relative small baleen whales and this one was not only small, but also entangled in fishing gear. The gear was loosely wrapped, but still obviously having an effect. The Coast Guard was notified, they in turn notified the Center for Coastal Studies
2 Minke Whales
1 Finback Whale
5 Humpback Whales
5 Wilson’s Storm Petrels
1 Immature Northern Gannet
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Breaching Humpbacks, Minkes, and a few Great shearwaters and a mature Northern gannet!
Another beautiful day on the water with whales, what more can you want? Our minkes were “stinky” and avoided being photographed, but were seen none-the-less. Our humpbacks showed us most of their repertoire of aerial behaviors. Our first pair of humpbacks included one whale (MN.CRESLI.2019.07.14-04) that’s been seen by us for the past 4 weeks, each time in close association (swimming synchronously and within a body width of the other whale) with a different humpback. Interesting! At one point MN.CRESLI.2019.07.14-04 and MN.CRESLI.2019.08.07-01 breached together, not 100’ in front of us, and a few seconds later, MN.CRESLI.2019.08.07-01 breached by itself. WOW. We left those whales and traveled our searching pattern, finding whales a few miles away- another pair? Yes, but - there’s MN.CRESLI.2019.08.07-02 with MN.CRESLI.2019.07.14-04. Incredible – another associated pair that includes MN.CRESLI.2019.07.14-04. That’s some gregarious whale.
3 Humpback whales
2 Minke whales
2 Great Shearwaters
1 Mature Northern Gannet
Friday August 9, 2019
Whales and Dolphins Too... Again!
The CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watch left Montauk on a beautiful day with blue skies and unlimited viability. We were only a mile south of the lighthouse when we saw our first blow and came upon our first whale. It was a young humpback whale and we followed it for almost an hour as it remained in the area. The passengers got some nice photos of the whale with the cliffs of Montauk in the background.
3 Humpback Whales
18 Bottlenose Dolphins
2 Great Shearwaters
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Finback whales and humpback whales
A little sea mist on the horizon had everyone on board the Viking Starship becoming a spotter. Captain Dave began his search East of Montauk and we were soon rewarded with a large Finback whale feeding. A beautiful cone-shaped blow and the incredible power of this marine mammal enchanted everyone on board. Next we found a 2 Humpback whales feeding and got a fabulous tail wave. This is a whale we have seen before. We also managed to see a Blue Shark that was feeding near the Humpback whales. As we continued our search we were able to see a few Minke whales nearer the Montauk Lighthouse. We had reports of a cow-calf pair of Minkes, but were unable to confirm. Birds of note today included A Cory's Shearwater and a number of Wilson's Storm Petrels dancing on the waves and surface feeding
Friday, August 16, 2019
A Humpback, a Minke and a Fin Whale...
It was a good day for a whale watch with great visibility and clearing skies as the CRESLI/Viking Fleet whale watch left Montauk harbor. After some time we spotted a tall blow in the distance. As we closed we saw it was a fin whale. This lone animal was about 40 feet in length, not large for these whales. It remained in this one area with a regular series of 4 surface breaths and then dives down, most likely to feed on the small fish our sonar saw close to the bottom. We got some nice looks at this animal as we stayed with it for some time. After continuing our search we discovered another species of whale, a young humpback. It was swimming slowly at the surface, sometimes "logging", and we all got some nice looks. As we continued on our search we saw a breach in the distance as a whale leapt from the water and so the boat went to investigate. This turned out to be a Minke whale, the smallest of the rorqual whales. After another trip where we hit the 3 species "whale trifecta" we headed back to harbor.
1 Humpback Whale
1 Minke Whale
1 Fin Whale
13 Wilson Storm Petrels
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Spectacular Humpback Whale Breaching
We left Montauk today with clearing skies and very calm seas. There was a report of a humpback whale a short distance from Montauk Point and we went looking for that whale first. After 30 minutes it proved easy to see as the humpback was breaching in the distance and creating huge white splashes of water. We approached this young animal and were treated to several bouts of breaching. It lunged its entire body length out of the water over and over - for a remarkable 30 plus breaches. In between breaching (and delighting the passengers) the whale stayed lounging on the surface and continually "flipper-slapped" the water, creating a sharp "crack" sound with each hit.
4 Humpback Whales
2 Minke Whales
2 Bottlenose Dolphins
1 Sooty Shearwater
1 Wilson Storm Petrel
3 Greater Shearwaters
Friday, August 23, 2019
A Spectacular Day with the Whales
What can you say about a trip where we saw 11 humpback whales, 2 other whale species and dolphins!
11 Humpback Whales
15 Bottlenose Dolphins
1 Fin Whale
2 Minke Whales
3 Cory Shearwaters
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Whales Close to Montauk
What started out as a cloudy and someone rainy trip turned into a productive day of whale watching. After less than an hour we spotted some big splashes in the distance- there was a whale breaching and flipper slapping. Unfortunately by the time we got to the area, with the overcast background, we were unable to find the whale. We continued on our way and suddenly came upon 2 humpback whales and 18 bottlenose dolphin. There was a lot of surface bait fish and the whales were feeding.The dolphins came into our area in 2s and 3s until there was a big group. They swam around the feeding whales for some time and some passengers got some special pictures with a whale and dolphin in the same photo! They showed us some fun behaviors such as leaping or "porpoising" out of the water. A minke whale joined this group and we got a few quick looks.
4 humpback whales
3 minke whales
18 bottlenose dolphins
Friday, August 30, 2019
A Beautiful Day with Whales all Around
Today was a sunny , beautiful day as we set out again in search of whales. We only had to round Montauk Point and cruise along the south shore for 40 minutes before seeing our first whale blowing. This turned out to be a humpback whale, in very shallow water (50 feet) making shallow feeding dives. The water was literally teeming with giant schools of bait fish, menhaden, at the surface. The whale was only going down for a bit over 2 minutes as its food was right at the surface.
5 fin whales
1 minke whale
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Great way to end our season!
Great trip today started with a humpback whale 15 minutes past the lighthouse. Spotted two identified whales while watching this humpback. After leaving humpback whale we came across 2 Finback whales. Approximately 12 bottlenose dolphins joined the two Finback whales for a brief time. After leaving the Finback whales we came across our second humpback whale fluking several times. This whale also gave us some flipper slapping which everyone enjoyed. We continued our search for more marine life to find blows off in the distance from to different whales. Unfortunately unable to identify the whales as they disappeared as we approached.
2 Humpback Whales
2 Finback whales
4 unidentified whales
12 bottlenose dolphins