Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where are the right whales?

It has been an unusual summer with few right whales in the deep waters of the Grand Manan Basin. Over the last few days, 40+ right whales have been found east of the southern Wolves, an island group that you pass on the ferry crossing, north of Grand Manan. The New England Aquarium research team has been surveying this area and also had another vessel out surveying an area to the southeast of Grand Manan where another group of right whales were found on Friday. Together with the whales we found on our whale watch, 80+ right whales are in the Bay.

The zooplankton tows done in an area where right whales normally occur have been coming up with very few copepods and hence the reason the right whales are not there. Off the Wolves, processed copepods, courtesy of herring, are floating at the surface in long windrows. Obviously the herring are also feeding on copepods in the same area as the right whales.

A few right whales have been found on Roseway Basin as well by another vessel with New England Aquarium researchers. They have been dodging hurricanes and tropical storms with the latest, Danny, working up the coast. Fortunately this second storm has never developed into a hurricane and will not be as damaging to the area. The first hurricane, Bill, moved mostly offshore, also reducing the storm damage but seas were high.

There is still a long way to go in documenting the right whale calves. We have seen very few calves, although did have a calf in the surface active group we were watching yesterday. It was difficult to tell who the mother was in the mass of pursuing males but hopefully I did catch her on camera.

It was great to see Gemini yesterday in a surface active group of about in a surface active group of 15-20 right whales.

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