The Maine Windjammer Association
Maine Windjammer Association Newsletter
March 2017
 / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 3
Top 10 Wildlife Sightings

While it’s possible to travel halfway around the world to catch a glimpse of exotic wildlife in its natural habitat, it’s also possible to enjoy large mammals, predators and raptors much closer to home. Here on the coast of Maine, abundant wildlife is a short sail away. And seeing this wildlife is easy as can be: just climb aboard, relax and watch the breathtaking scenery sail past your traditional sailing ship. Here are the top ten you’re likely to see:
 

credit: Courtesy Schooner Stephen Taber
Maine’s granite ledges make a great place to haul-out, especially if you’re a seal.

 

1.  Seals Guaranteed!
More big wet Labrador than elusive marine mammal, harbor seals have big dark eyes, long whiskers, and they love to bark. They bask in the sun on ledges as windjammers sail silently past and their frolicking pups entertain windjammer guests.

2.  Birds-a-Million
Penobscot Bay is on the Atlantic Flyway – and every spring and fall, millions of hawks, warblers and shorebirds, just to name a few, wing their way along the coast, much to the delight of birders and windjammer guests alike.

3.   Whale of a Tale!
Though whales are more elusive, windjammer guests do see them now and again and special whale-watching cruises take guests offshore to breeding grounds where finbacks, minkes and pilot whales can be spotted. Many guests take advantage of the American Eagle trip to the Canadian border every summer, where guests have regularly sighted the endangered Northern right whale.

4.  Glory of Eagles
The bald eagle is an American success story. Once on the brink of extinction, the eagle has made a comeback and windjammer captains regularly point out the treetop nests, and the mating pairs circling the smaller islands on the hunt. And it’s not just eagles: osprey, hawks and other migrating pelagic species populate Maine’s summer skies to the delight of windjammer guests.

5.  Loon Tunes
During the season, they make their way toward open water and call to each other in gorgeous, haunting tones as guests are lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of small waves against the hull. Listen to their 4 distinct calls.

 

credit: Patrick Burns
Guests aboard Schooner American Eagle got close-up views of this pair of puffins.

 

6.  Puffins
Every spring and summer, the “Clowns of the Sea” aka, puffins, make landfall to breed and raise their young. As a result, windjammer guests occasionally see them in passing, and some of the captains offer special “puffin-scouting” cruises that include a sail offshore to a puffin colony.

7.  Deer Me!

Maine’s deer can be found all over the state – even on islands accessible to them only by swimming or crossing the ice. Large bucks, gentle does and spotted fawns are reclusive and breathtaking for the guests who spot them. Fancy something bigger? One year, guests aboard the schooner Mary Day were treated to a moose sighting along the shores of Fort Point State Park.

 

credit: Captain Barry King
Porpoises are easy to spot on a calm day when they come up to the surface to breathe.

 

8.  Porpoises, not Dolphins!
Harbor porpoises are usually found in small groups of 2 of 6, often coming over to investigate a windjammer under sail. Distinct from their southern cousins, these marine mammals are smaller and have a more rounded nose than dolphins.

 

credit: Kike Calvo
A Wildlife Windjammer Cruise would not be complete without Maine lobster.

 

9.  Lobster Tales
Ah, the lobster. Wandering in and out of traps on the seabed, the iconic lobster is Maine’s emblem and whether spied in a kelp bed, coming out of a lobster trap or on the plate, this is one native that you can’t miss!

10.  Bears!
Ursus americanus can be found throughout Maine and while they tend to be very reclusive, you never know when a well-timed glance at the shoreline will reveal one of these pudgy fellows lumbering along the edge of the woods in search of a field of berries to sample or a tree to climb.­­­­­

In terms of wildlife sightings, this list is by no means exhaustive. Guests have been treated to views of mola molas and basking sharks, a baby beluga, scores of bird species include white-winged scoters and razorbill auks. While the captains always have extra binoculars on hand, guests often bring their own pair, along with their cameras!

For more information about sailing aboard any of the Maine Windjammer Association vessels in 2017, visit the Maine Windjammer Association’s website.

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