Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beach Clean-Up at Scusset Beach State Rerservation

Beach Cleanup at Scusset Beach State Reservation

Date: Saturday, Oct. 4th
Time: 9 am - 11 am
No rain date
Meeting Location: Bathhouse/Snack Bar at Scusset Beach

The New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) is sponsoring its annual beach cleanup at Scusset Beach State Reservation on Saturday, October 4th from 9 am to 11 am. This beach cleanup is part of a larger effort through COASTSWEEP, the Massachusetts-wide coastal cleanup that occurs during September and October. And our beach cleanup at Scusset Beach is in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

COASTSWEEP cleanups are organized by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). Each fall, thousands of volunteers collect tons of trash from beaches, marshes, riverbanks and the seafloor. These cleanups are part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. Last year alone, 2,588 volunteers cleaned 139 miles of coastline, collecting more than seven tons of trash.

NECWA will be meeting at the bathhouse/snack bar at Scusset Beach at 9 am. We will spend a few hours cleaning the beach and then return for refreshments and a free nature-themed raffle. 

Please join us at Scusset Beach and let’s have fun spending time outdoors with family and friends, new and old. All are invited for this is a family event. NECWA and COASTSWEEP will provide all the necessary supplies, including protective gloves, garbage bags and data sheets for this cleanup effort.
For additional information, email NECWA at

Thank you, Krill
Carol “Krill” Carson
President, NECWA
New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Trip Review - Fall Seabird & Whale Tales Excursion

September 7, 2014 Seabirds and Whale Tails Excursion

A big thanks to Donna Lorello for helping to write this trip report. 
With partly cloudy skies, the trip began by surveying Plymouth Beach taking note of gulls, terns, and cormorants.  Race Point, Peaked Hill Bars, the east side of the Cape and Stellwagen Bank were areas that were visited during the course of the trip.  

Our first stop was the tip of Cape Cod and the beaches along the backside of the Cape, including Race Point Beach. Here a Sabine's gull was sighted in a large grouping of gulls and terns.  Our captain, Capt. Bob English, did a fantastic job maneuvering the boat close to the beach to track down the bird as it flew to shore.  With some effort, this Sabine’s gull was picked up again and all aboard were able to get good looks at it.  It proved to be an adult with full dark hood over the head and was one of the most notable sightings of the day!

Gray seals and cormorants off Race Point Beach.
In this same area, we observed a large aggregation of gray seals that were resting in the shallow water just off the beach. Gray seals are the most common seal in our New England waters and their numbers have been increasing over the past 40 years. As we continued to move southeast along the backside of the Cape, we picked up a trio of parasitic jaegers that were performing some aerial maneuvers together. 

Mix of shearwaters. Photo courtesy of Gerry Mercier.
Several mixed groups of shearwaters were viewed as well as some common loons and a minke whale. We continued east heading towards Highland Light, Truro, and after birding in the area of Peaked Hill Bar, we decided it was time to turn back north and work our way back to Stellwagen Bank.

With a report coming in from another whale watching vessel, we headed to the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank to share an encounter with the infamous Salt and her new calf, Epsom. Salt is the most famous whale in our waters for she was the first whale to be named in 1975. She was named “Salt” for the extensive white scarring on the top of her dorsal fin as if someone salted it. Salt is a regular in our area and this season, she returned with calf number thirteen by her side. As we drifted in this area, we saw Epsom spending a great deal of time resting at the surface while Salt appeared to be feeding deep. Salt honored us with a beautiful view of her tail flukes each time she dove deep. 

Minke whale
We continued north moving along the eastern edge of the Stellwagen Bank. Few birds and whales were seen so we continued all the way to the northwest corner of the bank, just off Boston MA. Here we picked up two humpback whales that we identified as Shuffleboard and Habanero. Shuffleboard was first seen in 2008 and Habenero was first seen in 2012. This pair was slowly moving across the bank and seemed to be just taking it easy on such a beautiful day.

Follicle fluking out high with Ember in front.
We also picked up some additional whale sightings including a whale named Timberline, a male born in 1990 to a mother named Arc. Then we picked up a small group of humpbacks that included Ember, Gunslinger and Follicle. Ember, a male born in 1982 to a mom named Cardhu, appeared to be very excited for he was flippering (flipper slapping) at the surface. As we held position for this trio, two finback whales surprised us by surfacing off our bow. This pair seemed to be heading leisurely down the bank towards Race Point. Finbacks are nicknamed the "greyhounds of the sea" for they are incredibly fast moving whales. 

Ember flippering with Follicle and Gunslinger by his side.
As we watched our humpback trio, we noticed that when Ember stopped flippering, the group soon broke-up with Follicle joining Bayou, a new whale that moved into the area, while both Gunslinger and Ember headed off on their own. 

As Bayou fluked out, we saw that the right flukes of this whale had been cut off due to a vessel collision.  Bayou has healed from this injury and is doing well, but the damage to this animal’s tail is a stark reminder of the hazards that whales and other marine wildlife face when they feed in our protected waters. 
Finback whale
As we headed back south down the bank, we passed a mother and calf pair that we later identified as Echo and her calf of this year. We also passed a small flock of red-necked phalaropes that were sitting on the surface.
Perseid's calf surfacing off the bow

Pele fluking out with Perseid and calf by his side.
In the middle of the bank, we picked up three more humpback whales that included Pele who was feeding with Perseid and her calf.  Pele is a male that was first seen in 1997 and Perseid was born in 1998 to a mother named Palette.  Both adults were feeding deep while the calf was observed resting at the surface. While the crew worked to retrieve a yellow balloon from the water, the calf spent a lot of time playing at the surface as it rolled and fluked out several times to everyone's joy.
Perseid's calf fluking out.
Stormy weather sometimes blows birds off course and after such storms having passed through the previous few days, a ruby-throated hummingbird passed by as well as an unidentified yellow warbler.  A praying mantis seemed to stow aboard for the trip as well! 

Thanks to NECWA staff member Leah for rescuing this very unusual passenger. As we returned to Plymouth harbor, we slowed down to take a look at Plymouth Beach again and picked up a piping plover feeding along the water line.

Leah communicating with the mantis
Leah communicating with the mantis.
 Praying mantis
Our mascot!
Thanks to Captain Bob English and the crew of the Tails of the Sea for a job well done. Much thanks to Wayne Petersen for once again providing wonderful commentary over the course of the trip. Thanks to Blair and Peter for the seabird and gull overview below. Thanks to Mason Weinrich for help with humpback whale identification.  And much thanks to the staff and interns of NECWA for another wonderful day offshore!  To wrap up, here is a run down of the day's sightings:

Seabirds and Gulls:
  • 1 White-winged Scoter
  • 6 Common Loon
  • 225 Cory's Shearwater (majority off Race Point and Peaked Hill)
  • 100 Great Shearwater
  • 10 Sooty Shearwater
  • 2 Manx Shearwater
  • 2 Wilson's Storm Petrel
  • 10 Northern Gannet
  • 32 Red-necked Phalarope
  • 6 Parasitic Jaeger
  • 1 Jaeger sp.
  • 1 Sabine's Gull
  • 75 Laughing Gull
  • 50 Herring Gull
  • 15 Roseate Tern
  • 1 Piping Plover
  • 2 Black Belly Plovers
  • Ring-billed Gulls (indeterminate number)
  • Great Black-backed Gulls
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 1 warbler sp. (yellowish)

Marine Mammals: 
  • 19 humpback whales
  • 2 finback whales
  • 6 minke whales
  • 20 - 30 gray seals

Identified Humpback Whales:
·      Salt and Epsom
o   Echo and calf
o   Perseid and calf
o   Habenero
o   Shuffleboard
o   Ember
o   Follicle
o   Bayou
o   Pele
o   Timberline
o   Gunslinger

and one wayward praying mantis!

Thanks again for your support. Tentative trip dates for our 2015 SAWT trips are Sunday, June 7th and Sunday, September 13th. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Upcoming Seabird & Whale Tales Excursion

Update on Seabird & Whale Tales Excursion
Trip Date: Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014
Time: 8 am to 4 pm 
Boarding Time: 7:30 am 

For those of you who are registered for our all day trip on Sunday, Sept. 7,. 2014, here are some updates for you. The trip is a go, so get ready for lots of fun offshore!

Call me at 508-566-0009 or email me at if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday.

Best, Krill

To check the Marine Forecast Link: click HERE

Galley: You can purchase lots of good food from our galley. We will have some homemade foods (chowder, chili, deli sandwiches, etc.) and both breakfast and lunch items (donuts, bagels, muffins, chips, cookies, sandwiches, etc.)

Please, no glass and no alcohol. And bring as little as you need for we are a full boat!!

Galley Menu - cash only 

Breakfast Specials:
Assorted Donuts $1.00
Assorted Muffins $1.50
Assorted Bagels $2.00
Bagel with Cream Cheese $2.50

Coffee (regular or decaf) $ 1.00 
Coffee Special – unlimited coffee with purchase of DD travel mug $ 4.00
Teas (caffeinated or decaffeinated varieties) $ 1.00
Tea Special – unlimited tea with purchase of DD travel mug $ 4.00
Hot Cocoa (with or without marshmallows) $ 1.00
Sodas (assortment: Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sprite, Ginger-Ale) $ 1.00
Seltzers (assortment of flavors) $ 1.00
Bottled Water $ 1.00
Orange Juice $ 1.00

Lunch Specials:
Homemade Sandwiches (roast beef, ham, turkey, hummus or veggie) $5.00
-on bulky roll with lettuce, tomatoes and chips
Homemade Soup of the Day – Broccoli Ceddar $4.00
Homemade Chili (Turkey) $4.00
Clam Chowder $4.00
Baked Ziti $4.00
Rice Pasta -Mac and Cheese (Amy’s) $2.00

Potato Chips, Pretzels, Specialty Crackers, etc. $1.00
Homemade Desserts (apple crisp, brownies, cookies, etc.) $1.00

Show your NECWA pride by purchasing some NECWA gear that will be available on board:

      * cash and checks accepted for merchandise only. 
  • Salt the humpback whale short-sleeved t-shirt (stonewashed blue) - $10 / $12 for 2XL and up
  • "Peace for Whales" short-sleeved t-shirt (royal blue and pink) - $10 / $12 for 2XL and up
  • Great White Shark short-sleeved t-shirt (stonewashed blue) - $10 / $12 for 2XL and up
  • "Peace for Whales" pull-over hoodie (black) - $32 / $34 for 2XL and up
  • Northern Gannet zip, hoodie (navy blue) - $35 / $37 for 2XL and up
  • NECWA canvas tote (pink or light blue) - $14
  • Protect our Oceans silicon bracelet - $1
  • NECWA buttons and magnets - $1
       Additional Merchandise for Sale:
  • Folding Waterproof Field guides -  $6
  • DVD - Salt and Friends by the Whale Video Company - $12
  • DVD - Awesome Whales for Kids by the Whale Video Company - $12
  • Marine Mammals Field Guide - $15
  • Humpback Whale Song - CD - $5


9/6/12 - 9 am
Marine forecast looking better all the time. We are still on for tomorrow's trip. Please be down at the dock by 7:30 am ready to board. We leave at 8 am sharp so don't be late. Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow and spending time offshore. Thanks for all your support.

 9/2/14 - 9 pm
If you have a new or gently used nature-themed gift that you would like to share in our Nature Raffle, please bring with you on Sunday and give to Krill when checking in. We love having additional items to share including used field guides, t-shirts, original photographs, etc. Thanks so much!

9/2/14 -2 pm
Trip is a go! Please be down at the Town Wharf in Plymouth at 7:30 am ready to board. We leave the dock at 8 am sharp so please do not be late.

You can park in the large parking lot just past the wharf. You will need to put money into a kiosk and you will need to know your parking space number. Put in more money than for a 4 pm return in case we come in late.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday and thanks again for your support.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finback Whale Fluking Out!

Finback whale exhaling at the surface.
 On July 2, we saw something that most people don't see in their lifetime. We saw a finback whale lift its tail or fluke out of the water. I know it may not sound that exciting, but if you knew how rare this behavior is, then you would understand.

Here is the sequence of photos I took of this behavior as we watched this pair.

I was the naturalist aboard the Tails of the Sea, a commercial whale watching vessel owned and operated by Capt. John Boats. As we watched a pair of finback whales off the south side of Stellwagen Bank, we were astonished to see that one of the whales lifted its flukes out of the water as it dove deep. When diving, a finback whale typically arches it back and sinks beneath the water's surface. This is called a non-fluke dive. It is very rare to see a finback lift its tail high above the water. Rare or not, this whale broke all the rules!

Here is a sequence of photos from this same sighting showing the more typical non-fluke dive.

We love whale watching and any type of wildlife view for you just never know what you will see offshore. I have been working offshore for over 34 years and I have only seen a few finbacks fluke out when diving. So this really was a treat and a very special event for all onboard.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NECWA President and Founder receives prestigious Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council.

 Krill Carson, President and Founder of NECWA 

receives the 2014 Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council.

 Our very own Krill Carson has received the prestigious Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. And the Town of Plymouth, under the direction of David Gould, received the 2014 Sustainable Communities Award.

Click HERE to read more about the award.

Krill with the inflatable model of Salt that she and the NECWA team made by hand.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Seabird and Whale Tales Excursion - Sunday, June 8th

Seabird and Whale Tales Excursion 

on Sunday

June 8, 2014 

8 am - 4 pm

Boarding time: 7:30 am

June 7, 2014 Update:
Trip is a resounding GO! Great weather for us tomorrow and lots of bait and marine wildlife offshore. Please be down at the dock by 7:30 am ready to board. Really excited about seeing you and spending some quality viewing time offshore.

Galley Food: reasonably priced

        Breakfast: donuts, muffins, bagels with our without cream cheese (regular and chive)
        Lunch: deli sandwiches (turkey, ham, roast beef), homemade chili, chowder and soups, frozen fruit bars, popcorn, chips, pretzels, apples, homemade rhubarb pie and apple pie
 and lots more

See you tomorrow! PS, Can you tell I love to eat! Best, Krill

June 4, 2014 Update:
The trip is a go. See you down at the docks by 7:30 am. We leave the dock at 8 am sharp. Looking forward to an exciting day out on the water.

Marine Forecast for the waters off Cape Cod can be accessed using this site: Marine Forecast

Best, Krill

The surface feeding frenzy is still going on offshore!

We have had amazing views of humpback whales feeding on the southern side of Stellwagen Bank. Here are some video clips from our June 2 trip aboard the Capt. John & Son II.

Great to see so many whales feeding together. Humpback whales are a medium-sized baleen whale that is listed as endangered due to the few animals that remain in our oceans. But when you have a lot of sand lance close to shore, many whales are attracted into that area and the sightings can be amazing.

A "once in a lifetime" for all of us onboard, even us old timers. We need to keep our oceans healthy with abundant bait fish stocks for whales, seals, sharks, seabirds and other marine wildlife. Climate change, ocean acidification, marine debris, pollution, overfishing, etc. are all putting pressures on this system. The basis truth is "no bait fish = no whale."

I would hate to live in a world with few whales! Become educated on the topics and then ACT. Today, it is not enough to simply CARE, we have to become involved on behalf of these deserving animals. Join NECWA in our efforts to make a difference.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. We hear that phrase all the time, but it is so important and these simply actions can make a huge difference. Try to use less gas and oil and rely more on natural energy sources like geothermal and solar. Demand less plastic in your life and be a choosy consumer by flexing your "purchasing" muscle. Tell "commerical America" what you want and don't want by choosing more environmentally sound products. Eat locally raised foods, cook whole meals instead of eating fast foods or processed foods. You will be healthier and the planet will be healthier as well.

Yes, these types of actions are often not convenient and take more time and effort, but isn't it worth it? I don't want to lose beautiful and amazing sights like the one we witnessed on June 2nd, but that is a possibility if we don't act and act now.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Whale Watching trip on May 6, 2014

We joined Capt. John Boats out of Plymouth for a whale watch today. This highlight of the show was a cluster of whales, seabirds and seals that were aggressively feeding off Peaked Hill Bar.

The star of the shows was a humpback whale named Amulet. Amulet was using her tail to stun the bait before lunging mouth open through water and bait fish. It was to see such activity.