2011 03 15- A fantastic day on the water with around 50 whales, more fluke IDs Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


Above, a photo of a friendly female humpback spyhopping the crew on Sea Slipper and below my own view of the same whale from underwater. She danced around me for about 40 minutes while a badly scarred (from an entanglement) escort lay quitely below.


We had a spectacular day today with another morning of zero wind and waves. As a result we had perfect visibility on the surface and it was easy to spot whales. We found some 14 on the Bermuda platform before crossing the Canyon to Challenger Bank where we found another couple of dozen including two surface-active 'rowdy' groups.

The rowdy groups behaved exactly like the rowdy groups I had observed down on the Silver Bank in the Caribbean a week ago. We haven't really observed this kind of active group before where there are head-lunges and tail-swipes and the 'alligator swim' with males bashing each other for the attention of a female. This might be explained by the fact that we haven't ever seen this many whales this early in the season either. It is only because of the unusually calm weather that we have had so many whale sightings and been able to observe their behaviour so easily. Perhaps this early the females are still harassed by over-enthusiastic males competing for her attention. While we have observed large groups of whales 'aggregating' on Challenger later in the season, they don't exhibit this kind of breeding-ground behaviour.

On the way back home before sunset we encountered more humpbacks over the Canyon, around Sally Tuckers and all the way to South-west breaker. Everywhere we looked we could see spouts, the backs of whales or breaching or lob-tailing. A fantastic day and a great start to the season. We already have a bumper crop of fluke IDs that we are trying to process, catalogue and match, all of which takes time. We have already identified some whales to sightings in previous years to other locations in the feeding grounds and we have already seen that some whales from Monday we saw again on Tuesday.

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Above left is the fluke ID I took underwater of this whale. It's not very good, but better than nothing. On the right a photo of me getting her fluke ID. Below just a few of the fluke IDs we took during the day.

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The fluke ID above right we also obtained the previous day, the 14th of March.

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The fluke above left we also photographed the previous day, the 14th of March. Judie Clee has matched this to a Gulf of Maine whale, NAHWC#8719. This whale was first identified in 2005

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There are plenty more, but it will take some more time to process them properly. Watch this space and if you recognize any of these, please let us know!