2011 01 11- More whales seen off South Shore, probably feeding Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


A reminder that I will be screening "Where the Whales Sing" with an update on the 2010 season at BUEI this Thursday at 7.00 pm.Tickets available at the BUEI Gift Shop.

Today, after dropping the two girls off at school, I went to my secret observation platform and looked for whales. Once again we had this brief window of relatively calm weather (winds from the north west 8-12 knots). There was patchy cloud cover but within five minutes I spotted the first whales- what looked like two whales and a calf, about two miles off Hungry Bay. They remained in the same area during the 45 minutes that I watched. But I also spotted what I thought were at least three and maybe more whales also about 2 miles offshore Pink Beach. These whales too seemed to hang around the same area.

Later in the day, when I picked Somers up from nursery school,  I went to the exact same spot and using the trees below me as reference points, picked out the two areas where I had seen the whales that morning, six hours earlier. In precisely the same location I could confirm a pair of whales in both locations- off Hungry Bay and Pink Beach. I watched for over an hour and the pair of whales in each location demonstrated 'behaviour commensurate with foraging' (in scientific language, or in our own words- the whales were feeding). They blew half-a-dozen times and then their flukes were raised high in preparation for a dive. The whales in both locations disappeared for 8-12 minutes before resurfacing in the same area. There was a fishing boat on its fishing mooring about a mile out from Devonshire Bay. It looked as if the fisherman had spotted the whales and moved towards their area which seemed to have an upwelling. For the next hour the fishing boat and the whales remained on this upwelling that was obvious even to the naked eye. When the sun disappeared behind clouds, the blows of the whales were almost impossible to distinguish.

It goes to show that during calm days in the winter when the sunlight is so low and slanted, the whales are there to be seen. There is something immensely satisfying and comforting when I see the blows of the whales. The knowledge that our friends are once again in our waters makes the ocean seem alive. The past observations I've had this winter I wasn't really sure what the whales were doing- resting, migrating by on their way south, but today I can say without much doubt that these whales were feeding on upwellings a couple of miles offshore where there are bights in the bathymetry of the ocean floor. Although I have not had any sightings from the fishermen, they tell me that the waters right now on Sally Tuckers and Challenger are full of food- from the plankton and 'krill' to the bait fish and predator fish. This could mean we'll have a bumper year for whales again, as long as we get some breaks in the weather and can get out there to identify our humpbacks.