Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baldy's 2009 Calf Seen Off Florida

Baldy is one of our more prolific mothers with a large family of at least eight calves, plus grandcalves and great-grandcalves. She was seen several times in 2009 in the Bay of Fundy with her calf. Unfortunately her calf had suffered from an entanglement somewhere along the migration route from Florida to the Bay of Fundy. With no rope or other gear on the whale, the calf appeared okay. It was obvious that an entanglement and escape had occurred because of the type of cuts across her head, back and tail stock (see September 4 post, http://adoptrightwhales.blogspot.com/2009/09/baldys-eighth-baby.html).

On January 25, 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission aerial survey team spotted Baldy's calf off Ponte Vedra, FL. They also responded with a vessel to get a closer look at the calf. No longer with Baldy, the health of the calf has deteriorated with many whale lice or cyamid amphipods on the tail stock. The whale lice population explodes when whales become unhealthy. Sick whales often turn a greyish colour from increased sloughing skin and the skin provides abundant food for the whale lice. Whale lice may also provide a role in keeping wounds clean. The whale also seemed to be moving unusually suggesting the entanglement may have caused spinal damage when the whale struggled to free itself from the entanglement.

The research teams will be on the lookout for this whale and hope that the injuries are not life-threatening.

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