|2009 March 7th Whale song, mother and calf, fluke id, an entangled whale and a 29-year match|
|Written by Andrew Stevenson|
A beautiful day today. We set out on Sea Slipper with Michael Smith, Camilla Stringer, Pat Dill, Steven Masters and myself at 11.30 am towards Sally Tuckers. Stopped short of Sally Tuckers where Pat had twice seen the back of a whale but no spout. Didn't see the whale but saw footprints in a long line in 50 feet of water heading to Sally Tuckers. Dropped the hydrophone overboard and could barely make out a whale singing. Reports of two whales and a hammerhead shark on the surface at Sally Tuckers. We saw one whale feeding on the eastern edge but kept going towards Challenger. Half way through the canyon we stopped again to listen on the hydrophone and the whale song was much clearer. As we approached Challenger Bank we dropped the hydrophone overboard again. Whale song was louder and we made a long 20 minute recording. Saw whales breach on the eastern edge of Challenger and then saw a baby puff and then later, mother and baby. The baby seemed very small. Could it have been the same baby born about a month ago here in Bermuda? Saw blows on the crown of Challenger and continued there. Right on the crown we saw a whale and presumed it to be the singer. Singing was very loud and obviously very close. A whale surfaces at intervals with a curious splashing that I had never seen before. While the whale surfaced the singing continued uninterrupted. We followed the whale with the curious splashing of its pectoral fins against its body and could see that it was injured or entangled in a net or line. It's pectoral fins seemed pinned to its side and every time it surfaced to blow it slapped its pectoral fins audibly againsts its sides. The photograph below shows the pectoral fins high up on its back in what appears to be an unnatural position. The 'singer' joined and escorted the entangled whale. We followed the two who were joined by a third. Dropping the hydrophone overboard we confirmed that the singing had stopped. We left the whales and head back towards Sally Tuckers and soon after leaving Challenger were given a long tail lobbing show which must have lasted close to half an hour. A beautiful winter day with dark clouds and the wind picking up as we headed back and threaded our way through the reefs after dark, saddened only by the thought that a whale might be suffering with its pectoral fins pinned to its sides by net or lines.
And a new match of NAHWC#3209 made by Judy Allen at Allied Whale, below on the left taken in Bermuda in 1985 and on the right #0090 at Twillingsgate, Newfoundland in 2008 by Lance Furbert. Lance sent us his photo and we forwarded ito Allied Whale. Here is its sighting history:
Aug 1981 Cape Bluff, Lab (J. Perkins)
Apr 1985 Bermuda (College of the Atlantic)
Jun 1994 Placentia Bay, Nfld (Memorial University)
Camilla Stringer's field notes from the day are on Diary Data Sheets.