Large concentration of sei spotted near the Vineyard

During a recent flight survey, six other species of whales were discovered nearby and two orcas.


Over 160 whales were spotted just south of the Vineyard and Nantucket and 7 different whale species were identified during a single survey as reported by marine observers last week.

Of these species spotted was the sei whale, with 93 found, one of the highest concentrations of that particular species that the survey team had ever seen during a single survey flight.

A Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s North Atlantic Right Whale team spotted the whales on May 25.

“It’s not uncommon to see a lot of whales in the area, just because there’s a lot of food this time of year,” said Teri Frady, Chief of Communications at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “But it’s unusual to see this many on one particular day.”

Typically surveys by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center occur daily this time of year, although Frady said it’s hard to give an exact number, as it’s necessary for a plane to be available and weather to be decent. And, surveys don’t always happen in the same area.

The number of species identified from this survey, she said, is somewhat rare.

“It’s really unusual to have that much variety in a single day for us,” she said. “On any given survey, you might see one or two of those species.”

Aside from sei whales, 36 humpbacks, 21 fin whales and minke, sperm and North Atlantic right whales were also spotted, according to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center report.

Two orcas were also spotted as well, one of them bobbing with a tuna in its mouth.

Sightings of orca whales around the Vineyard are rare. Last year, a pod of orcas was spotted south of Nantucket, the first orca spotting in the area that surveyors had reported.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, whales are highly vulnerable to human activities in the ocean, although they exist at the top of the food chain and possess an important role when it comes to the health of marine environments.

The sei whale specifically, one of the survey’s more notable findings, was once a primary target for commercial whaling. Now, the species can be harmed through “scientific whaling”— the permitted killing of whales to be treated for scientific research — as well as pollution and entanglement in fishing gear, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

As a whole, Frady said the number of whales spotted during the May survey does not necessarily indicate that each was an individual whale. Due to difficulty spotting movement, it’s possible one individual could have been counted twice. “But still, it’s a lot of whales,” she said.




  1. Thats a lot of rare whales. Sadly Avangrid has been given the Federal Permits to Take/Kill them.
    Why doesn’t anybody write about that tragedy?

    • C Carroll– Let me write about the “tragedy” here.
      The tragedy is that you are so misinformed that you write
      the comment above. No such thing has happened.
      The tragedy here is that malicious people have managed to
      convince the willfully ignorant that Avangrid
      has been given federal permits to kill whales, and this publication actually
      gives space to those who choose to spread that
      malicious and harmful lie.
      It’s a freaking LIE, C Carroll.
      A lie– get it ?
      That’s why people aren’t writing about
      that “tragedy” .
      And extra shame on the editor for allowing this
      blatant lie to defile the good name of this
      C Carrol is just ignorant I can’t blame them.
      Connie and Sam– you know it’s a big fat freaking lie.
      Shame on you.
      On a lighter note—
      I hope the baby is doing well….

    • Can you post a reputable link to these claims of federal permits to kill whales? Other the the Inuit’s in Alaska? I’m betting you can’t…

  2. Jim , OSW developers are issued an ITP or IHA (Incidental take permit or Incidental harassment permit) that allows the “taking” of protected species. There are level “A” and “B” permits issued, “A” being a little more severe consequences.These permits are issued to all sorts of non government projects that may in some way harm a protected species. It’s not unique to just OSW development. It’s not a permit to intentionally kill but more of a “get out of jail free card” if a mortality were to happen as defined , to harass,harm , injure or kill.
    The interpretation of these permits by some people vary but it is what it is. NOAA lists these permits on the website for every ITP/IHA issued and the list of species that could potentially be affected.
    Here’s a quick Wikipedia definition.
    If you want more , check out NOAAs website, it’s pretty informative.

    • Jason– you neglect to point out that NOAA has denied any
      level “A” takes of any marine mammal for the VW project.
      Level “A” harassment has the potential to harm or kill any marine mammal.
      NOAA has specifically forbade VW from any level “A” takes.
      The grain of truth here which has been severely twisted by
      groups or individuals opposed to the windfarms is that they
      are permitted to have 20 level “B” takes. That means if they
      are making noise and the whales avoid the area, it counts as a
      “take”. That kind of harassment is like not coming to a full stop
      50 ft away from a turkey crossing the road, so it doesn’t have to
      alter it’s speed or path. The continued spread of this ridiculous
      untrue ‘argument” is pretty pathetic.
      It is not a “get out of jail free” card. You know better Jason–
      quite the contrary– they are explicitly forbidden.
      It’s like having a five year old cross the street when you don’t
      want them to. If you never told them not to cross the street, they
      may have the reasonable excuse that they didn’t know they weren’t
      allowed to cross the street.
      But if you specifically tell the five year old not to cross the street and they
      do, you can hold them accountable.
      You should give this one up, Jason, and not muddy the water for those
      who don’t know.

    • Thank you Jason!
      Hopefully Don will now post a picture of himself with a fat dead crow in his mouth, but I doubt it.
      Some people around here, seemingly the ones with the loudest voices, just can’t get enough of that wind. It feels like they would roll it up and smoke it if they could.

      • Bill- Jason and i are in total agreement about the
        definitions of the “takes”. He first brought the
        issue up and apparently thought a take was synonymous
        with “kill”. He erroneously claimed that on Feb 8 2023.
        He has been corrected on that, and understands
        that a take is not a kill. He also knows that VW has not been
        granted any permits to injure any marine mammal.
        I am quite surprised that he is now claiming that NOAA’s
        clear prohibition against ANY harm is somehow a “get out
        of jail” card. I’m disappointed.

    • Hi Jason– Thanks for reaching out. Indeed, I have looked at the takes. and I am wrong– Vineyard wind has indeed been granted some level “A”  takes for various marine mammals. None for the Right whales-.When I first looked all this up, it was because of an allegation that they had been authorized to “kill” 20 right whales, when in fact, they were granted 20 level “B” takes. So, No excuses, my comment on the times about “no level “A” takes was incorrect. And I apologize to the readers here. However, I will  point out that the original comment in this thread was from a person that was concerned about the whales being killed. So I will correct myself again, and acknowledge that my comment of the definition of a level “A” take included the word “kill” “Level A harassment is defined in the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as any act that has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild.” There seems to be a bit of a difference
      in wording for terrestrial animals where the word “kill”
      appears.. My apologies again. But no wind company has been authorized to kill any marine mammal. Nor has there been any direct evidence
      that any offshore windfarms have caused any deaths.
      It’s certainly possible, but none certified YET
      Thank you Jason for calling me to task. 

  3. Scott– what are you waiting for ?
    I don’t want to keep anyone waiting.
    I will be happy to address whatever it is you
    are waiting for.

  4. C Carroll, you are correct in the sense that avagrind has an ITP (incidental take permit) for both level “A” and level “B” takes. Any harmed protected species would be done so incidentally to their practices during construction phase. Not permitted to intentionally kill.
    The ITPs and IHAs cover a broad area of threats. Could be very benign or could be an actual mortality.

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