|2011 03 30- 11 hours on the water, 30+ whales, another 12 fluke IDs and matches and resightings|
|Written by Andrew Stevenson|
The day started off slowly with winds and waves but as predicted the conditions calmed down during the day. We encountered to sets of whaless in shallow water near SW Breaker including what appeared to be a mother, escort and calf. Then in the middle of the Bermuda platform we found another five whales in 50 feet of water- these appeared to be a calf with five adults but it was difficult to be sure and we left them for Challenger when whale watching boats arrived. On Challenger we spent most of our time with seven or even eight adult whales that swam in close formation. There didn't seem to be any of the rowdy behaviour of the breeding whales in the Caribbean. We kep the boat facing into the wind and waves at almost idle and these whales remained around us or under us for an hour, sometimes diving for extended periods although they were not on the edge of the Challenger platform and therefore unlikely to be feeding. This was yet another example of what appears to be whales meeting, hanging out here for some days and then possibly continuing their migration together up north. Without getting into the water with them it was difficult to determine what sex they were or whether there were some juveniles with adults. There didn't appear to be a calf. We did observe one or two other new calves with a mother and escort.
We left Challenger at 6.30 and arrived on Sally Tuckers at 7.00 that evening where there were swathes of fish baitballs rising to the surface in large areas the size of tennis courts. We could see the small sardine-like fish jumping out of the water to escape the predators below. We didn't stay long, but we did see the flukes of two whales when they dived, presumably feeding along the edge where all this activity was going on. You can see the baitballs clearly against the flat background of the ocean in the photos above.
Below are some of the fluke IDs we obtained today.
Nancy Heins who works for a whale watch company out of Gloucester has also identified the fluke above right as Barb, a male born in 1987 to a mom named Veil and is once again, a Gulf of Maine whale. Two days ago, I sent Dr Jooke Robbins a dorsal fin with a distinct marking on it and she identified it as Barb. Now we have the fluke ID to go with the dorsal fin for our own records. Pretty amazing stuff! And all of this within an hour of putting these flukes onto our website.Thanks Nancy!
Nancy Heins has already identified the fluke ID above left as Tsunami, a whale first seen in 1998 in the Gulf of Maine
The fluke ID above right was taken by Whitney Butterfield
The two IDs above were taken by Richard Lee
By the time we returned it was after sunset, 11 hours after we set out this morning