2009 05 20 Sadly it seems the remaining whale with functioning satellite tag no longer transmitting Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

Sadly the last whale that was still transmitting its position has stopped doing so. All the satellite tags are now dead. NOAA will be putting out some reports on this which I will put onto our website when I receive them.

However, the information the tags beamed back to us, especially the one on 87632, a mother and calf, were very interesting. After being tagged on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic, 87632 looked at one time as if it was headed for us, but it passed some 125 nautical miles to our west. It remained in one spot to our west for some days before heading east towards Bermuda. It remained to our immediate north east before continuing north towards Newfoundland. Once it hit the shelf, it turned ninety degree west and crossed the Laurentian Trough towards the Scotian shelf.

What does this information tell us? In my own opinion, it confirms that the whales don't make a beeline north to their feeding grounds from their winter breeding grounds. The information beamed back to us seems to back up my own observations here in Bermuda, that the whales are remaining around the mid-ocean seamounts to opportunistically feed for some days. The question I have is this: are they remaining for some days on these seamounts to opportunistically feed, or are they opportunistically feeding while waiting to aggregate into larger groups? The satellite tags on these whales did not contradict my hypothesis that the humpbacks may be aggregating around singers on these seamounts, or that they continue north in these larger protective groups to avoid attacks from orcas. Once on the feeding grounds they separate. I look forward to seeing NOAA's report on this tagging project.

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