2009 05 4 - 8 of the last 10 days on the water and a $5,000 check from the Ministry of Environment! Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

I have spent eight of the last ten days on the water, some days 14 hours long, some days 24 hours when we overnighted last week fifteen miles offshore on Challenger Bank. I apologise for being behind on diary entries but I just haven't had enough time ashore to process all the fluke ids, respond to emails and spend time with Elsa and Somers (and Annabel). But I promise the diary entries will be coming up as soon as my head surfaces long enough to catch up. Highlight of the last ten days? At four in the morning on Challenger, engine off, the boat tied to a mooring, stars out, moon gone, and Michael and I heard the sounds of whales breathing somewhere around us. All night long we recorded whales singing and at daybreak the whale song stopped.

Or how about spotting a whale, driving towards it, putting the engine in idle and then realising we could hear the whale singing. The whale was below us and his song was reverberating through the hull of Sea Slipper! We also recorded one 25-minute session of whale song that is the best we have heard so far.

These were the highs of the last ten days, the lows were the long hours of looking and not finding. Twice however baby whales found us, once following behind Sea Slipper for some minutes before disappearing and another time intersecting our track on the catamaran sailboat Windrush so the baby whale almost went between the two hulls. In both cases the humpback calves disappeared mysteriously, without a trace, on perfectly calm days. We reckon they have re-breathers, are buddy-breathing or are frequenting an oxygen bar. At least, that is my latest hypothesis.

This morning Michael Smith phoned to go back out on a rather spanky looking, all cleaned up and polished Sea Slipper. I had been feeling 'whaled out' but Michael's enthusiasm soon changed my mind and a quick call to Carol Dixon saw her come out too. Seas were rough and we were thrown around a bit and the bouncing caught Carol off-guard momentarily but she politely deposited her lunch in a proferred garbage bag with no complaint and without taking her eyes off her quandrant. We missed Camilla for the eighth day and hope she's on the mend. We trolled Sally Tuckers unsuccesfully despite a call from a fisherman in the area that he had seen a whale 'kicking up a storm'. It does look as if the season, apart from the occasional mother and calf, is over. The ocean around us doesn't seem quite as alive as it has over the last four months. But we do have another mother and calf heading our way...

One reward for being ashore was picking up a check from the Ministry of the Environment for $5,000 towards the Humpback Whale Film Project. I missed the formal presentation of these environmental grants last Friday, but the check was still good today!

And here is the smiling face on the porch when I arrived home this evening. Eight-month old Somers on the left having dinner, and notes from five-year old Elsa to herself so she could search it up on Google: 'terrium animal set up a trap'. Amazingly, Google knew exactly what she wanted and showed her how to set up different traps for different bugs.