Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sighting of Catspaw and Calf

While hopes were initially high that a number of right whale mothers and calves would come into the Bay of Fundy this year after twenty calves were born, such was not the case.  Only a handful of right whales were seen and none spend much time in the Bay.  The culprit - most likely a lack of food in the form of copepods, their preferred diet.  It was disappointing for everyone and confusing as to where the right whales might be.

A couple of sightings were reported from Cape Breton, not an expected location.  The  New England Aquarium were able to do a few surveys in the second critical habitat in Canada, Roseway Basin.  The first survey in the third week in August had only a few right whales but numbers grew for the second survey in the middle of September when Catspaw and her calf were photographed (November 19, 2013).  Catspaw is only seen in the Bay of Fundy when she has a calf so we will have to wait until her next calf to see her again, fingers crossed that the copepod biomass returns to a better level.  Fortunately the New England Aquarium reported that the calf had a big fat roll, indicating a healthy baby and mom.

It will be interesting to see how many calves will be born this year after two bad years in the Bay of Fundy with 2013 being the worse.  Because there is a year delay from a poor food availability year, this year and next will let us know if the right whales have found adequate food elsewhere.  Of course, everyone would like to know where that is so the whales can be monitored in this unknown habitat and users of the area can be educated about right whales if they are not familiar with these endangered whales.

There is much discussion after the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium meeting about the whereabouts of right whales.  Here is a link to an article: