(Virginia Beach, VA) - Last weekend’s Virginia Aquarium Winter Wildlife Boat Trips brought in some unique activity for this time of the year. On Feb. 22, two humpback whales and approximately 20 extremely active bottlenose dolphins were spotted near Rudee Inlet. Virginia Aquarium Educator Janet Schroeder said, “One of the humpback whales was at the surface a lot with its head showing the whale’s nodules/tubercles.”
On Sunday’s trips, Virginia Aquarium Boat Trips Coordinator Alexis Rabon reported that the bottlenose dolphins were the stars of the sea. On all three excursions, the dolphins were extremely active, demonstrating behaviors such as breaching, tail slapping, and feeding cooperatively together. Several calves were spotted, and on many occasions, the dolphins rode along the bow, sides, and in the wake of the boat. “The dolphins were highly inquisitive, and treated the guests to many up-close views where they looked directly at guests,” said Rabon. “The water visibility was excellent, and the dolphins could be seen twirling around under the surface.” Sunday’s 9 a.m. trip also experienced a humpback whale sighting.
“Our ‘flight’ crew was also out in full force, with northern gannets plunge-diving down into the water,” said Rabon. Surf scoters, double-crested cormorants, red-breasted mergansers, great black-back gulls, loons, and brown pelicans were also noted.
As of Feb. 25, Aquarium Researcher Jackie Bort reported that during this winter’s boat trips, 33 individual humpback whales have been identified, with six of those being matched to the Gulf of Maine catalog. In addition, eight to nine fin whale sightings and one minke whale have been seen. “This is a fantastic illustration of the diversity we have been able to see on our trips,” said Bort.
Since the season began in late December, 50 out of 71 completed trips have had large whale sightings and nearly all trips have seen some type of exciting wildlife sighting. Trips end March 31, leaving only five weeks of the Winter Wildlife Boat Trip season remaining.
Winter Wildlife Boat Trips admission costs are: adults $28 (12 and older); children $24 (ages 4 through 11); and children less than 3 years of age are free. Tickets may be purchased at either Aquarium building or at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee Inlet. For further information, current schedules, and reservations, visit VirginiaAquarium.com or call (757) 385-FISH. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed and trips may be canceled due to unsafe boating conditions.
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