20th April 08 Full moon and an exercise in frustration Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

  

Two sets of flukes, of which one pair has been identified. Photographs by Kelly Winfield. (Postscript: if you look on the entry to 13th May you'll see that Allied Whale has matched this whale photographed on the right!)

A short clip of three whales swimming by is on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmOAs7ypC3E

Today we set out on Dom Perignon with Bob Steinhoff, Peter Weedon, Sophie Benlow a marine biologist from England here as a guest speaker for the Bermuda Zoological Society, Mellissa and Marie. Notes taken by Sophie and typed up tonight by Andrew. Set off at 9.00 reaching the point at Sally Tuckers at 10.00 where there were eleven boats moored. We went around them and along the edge northwards.

10.15 first blow sighted about a mile behind us and again at 10.30, heading south towards the fishing boats. Obviously a whale feeding along the edge. We picked up a water sample of brown/pink something streaking the water surface right along the edge.

10.42 we spot another whale along the edge with two fishing boats nearby. There are several blows minutes apart and it looks like a mother and calf judging by the smaller blow of one whale and the proximity of the blows to each other. Follow the whales west towards Challenger and see frequent blows at 10.48, 10.50, 11.00, 11.05, 11.18 where we lose them in the canyon between the ledge of Sally Tuckers and Challenger. Head back towards Chubb Head and see another blow at 12.20 and then again at 12.28. There are two whales just below the surface of the water moving very slowly. I suit up. Water is 50-80 feet deep and whales continue to be relaxed. 12.47 we see a fluke dive with three whales now in 120 feet of water. We also see Looking Glass approaching. 13.02 Jolly Roger approaches followed by a sports fishing boat. Explorer approaches so we leave the area with little chance of getting into the water with the whales and so many boats about.

We move in a wide arc to the east and south again towards Sally Tuckers. At 13.28 we see a blow and again at 13.36 and 13.37 before apparently losing the whale in 60-70 feet of water. We reverse direction and I get into the water and Bob turns the engines off. When I dive I can clearly hear a male humpback singing but can't see him in perfect visibility. 13.50 singing stopped. 13.52 whales surfaces on opposite side of boat to me. Surfaces again at 13.58, 14.00, 14.22 and 14.24. Five boats approach us, including Looking Glass, Explorer, Jolly Roger and others. 'Our' whales seems to have joined the whales the whale watching boats have been following since we left them earlier. 14.32-14.37 whales very close to Explorer. I get back in the boat. 14.48 we see two breaches by the whales beside a boat before the whales head for deeper waters. Jolly Roger and Looking Glass leave, followed a little later by Explorer at 14.55.

 At 15.00 we see the whales amidst all the fishing boats, lolling around on their sides and changing direction at random until 15.40 when they start moving east. I'm in the water several times and can see that there are five whales in the pod. At times they seem to be in a ball of whales with much activity underwater. At times they are so close together and twisted around each other swirling in a tight ballet. Two other spectator boats follow us and for a while there is lots of surface activity before two whales break off leaving three to continue east while the others seem to be heading to Challenger. I manage to get in the water several times until 16.40. There is frequent surfacing and lots of activity. I'm in the water again at 15.00 when three whales swim by in shallow water. Triangle Diving boat appears and at 17.15 we head home having had other boats around us or following us for most of the day.

 
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