2009 04 29- Overnight on Challenger Banks fifteen miles offshore Bermuda with fantastic whales songs Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


Baby whale breaching/David Packer

We set out early on Wednesday morning with Michael Smith on Sea Slipper and Kevin Horsefield and his niece Anna and myself. Trolling along the edge towards Sally Tuckers we saw a mother and her calf breach several times. We followed the mother and calf and escort at some distance all the way along South Shore to Warwick Long Bay.  They seemed on a mission and we left them early in the afternoon. We continued to Challenger where we found several whales but had difficulty staying with them and despite the oil-slick calm conditions we lost several whales. We did see several bait balls of pilchard-sized fish within a hundred yards of where we lost the whales. Something was scaring those fish into bait balls and because this was near the crown on the Challenger platform and not the edges it was somewhat surprising to me. I can only assume we lost the whales so often today because the whales were feeding on these fish. It would be difficult to see these baitballs unless it was dead calm like today. Capelin are very similar to pilchards and the whales feed off capelin in Newfoundland, so there is every reason to suspect that they feed on them here too.

We dropped the hydrophone overboard several times and made one particularly beautiful 25-minute recording of a whale singing.

We finally moored around 6 pm in 170 feet of water on the Challenger seamount some fifteen miles off Bermuda, made a nice meat lasagna dinner and began rolling watch shifts, three hours on, three hours off. All through the night we dropped the hydrophone overboard and throughout we had whale song. At around 4am it was dead calm, the moon had gone down and the stars were bright, Michael and I were on watch when we heard whales breathing close to the boat. A magical sound...