Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sightings up to June 25

Hello Everyone! It has been so busy on the Bay of Fundy that I can seem to get the chance to sit down and keep you informed as to what has been seen on our whale watching cruises! Which in a way is a good thing! Our cruises have been departing daily at 130pm. Each cruise has been a bit longer than usual as we have to travel a bit further offshore. No one seems to mind the travel time saying that once we get there, the sightings have been terrific. We have been going to an area called the Prong, a shallower area located about 18 miles northwest of Brier Island. The herring and other small schooling fish has been ample there, attracting large numbers of whales and seabirds. Of particular note is that we documented 5 mother and calf pairs in one day! We were only able to identify 2 of them; Colorado (Her first calf ever!) and Mirage.
Because the herring has been plentiful we have seen some activity by the whales as well. On one occasion, Three Dots, an adult female, entertained us by tail breaching and tail lobbing. It is thought that this may be a feeding strategy to concentrate the herring into tighter schools so that they can get more food at one time.

Three Dots tail lobbing!

There have also been a lot of birds in that area as well, including: Puffins, Greater Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, Common Murres, Razorbills and Northern Fulmars.

Wilson's Storm Petrels

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sightings June 14, 15 and 16

A humpback whale named "Scream"
Sightings have been excellent the last couple of days with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. On June 14, the Mega Nova set out on its regular whale watch cruise and headed toward the "rip", a shallower area where the Bay of Fundy tide is upwelled by ledges creating a soup of food for whales and seabirds. It wasn't long until we spotted the first spout, the whales's breath that resembles a plume of smoke rising from the surface of the water. We were able to approach the whales so that we could get a better look at them, however, they weren't going for deep dives so we couldn't see the underside of their tail to identify them. Because of those sightings we decided to go on a research cruise the next day to get identifying photographs and data on the humpback whales that were sighted. We saw the same whales as the previous day and were able to identify them as Luna, Orion, Flame, Magpie and Parrot. Other individuals that we documented that day were Maelstrom, Scream, Willow, Waterspout, Rope and Python. We recorded 17 humpback whales so there were some that remain to be identified.
The highlight of the cruise was when Scream, Willow, and Maelstrom approached the boat closely in curious behaviour.
On June 16, the fog shut in on the Bay of Fundy but that didn't deter us from whale watching. The only factor that dos is if there is a lot of wind. We returned to the same area and were able to locate three humpback whales by shutting down the engines and listening for their breath as they surfaced. Everyone was amazed just how quickly we could locate them using this method.
All in all, it has been a good week and the best is yet to come!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Whale Sightings up to June 9

Minke Whale

Whale watching season has begun on the Bay of Fundy with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. Our first cruise was on June 2. June is still considered a bit early in the season but we still see whales and the most common sighted whale at this time are usually minke whales. It wasn't long into the cruise when we saw a splash in the distance, followed by several more. My heart did a little skip, thinking that maybe we were seeing a humpback but because of the absence of the long pectoral flippers, and the shape of the body, it was quickly determined to be a minke whale, the smallest type of baleen whale in the Bay of Fundy. Sightings of these whales continued up until yesterday. That was when our research boat, the Cetacean Search, did just that, it went on a search to find humpbacks. We did find 4 humpback whales about 18 miles from Brier Island. Everyone on the whale watch boat, Mega Nova, was elated at such a find. We did identify the 4 whales by their flukes. Their names were Peajack, Radar, Haze, and Handstand.
Humpback Whale named "Peajack"

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lobster Season Ends

So while I'm waiting for the whale watch season to start, I thought I'd go out for the last day of the lobster fishing season in southwestern Nova Scotia. As a whole, I am hearing reports that it was not a great season with low catches, especially when the price of lobster was $15 per pound. The day was beautiful with light winds and calm seas. I didn't go on the first trip to get traps, that would have been at 5am. The first load of traps was unloaded by 10am and I jumped aboard to bring in the rest of the traps. I watched as each trap was landed and emptied of its catch. The traps were piled at the stern of the boat to be brought ashore to wait for "dumping day' of the 2007-2008 season. All in all, I enjoyed the day but much prefer watching whales...though I do like eating lobster!