Etch-a-Sketch -- often referred to as EAS or Etch -- is a favorite of many New England whale watchers. She is named for black markings on her fluke, which resemble the lines one might make while playing with an Etch-a-Sketch toy. In 2016 she had a new calf with her when she returned to Stellwagen Bank.
FIRST YEAR SEEN: 1988
YEAR of BIRTH (Mother): 1988 (Thalassa)
Etch-a-Sketch is most well known for her unique style of feeding. Her technique is a variation on kick-feeding: Etch-A-Sketch will lift her tail high out of the water and then slap it at the surface three times before diving and blowing a bubble cloud. She always does this in exactly the same way, making it possible to identify Etch from a great distance by her feeding style alone!
Exactly how this “kick-feeding” that Etch-a-Sketch and many other humpbacks engage in helps them feed in not fully known, but it likely involves using the tail slaps to stun, frighten, and/or disorient the fish, making it easier for the whale to capture more fish in each mouthful -- thus increasing feeding efficiency.