Friday, August 24, 2007

What a great day!

OK, just when I thought things couldn't get any better....but on Wednesday, August 22 we decided to conduct an all day research cruise to determine just where the larger numbers of humpback whales have been hanging out. We have been seeing quite a number of humpbacks on our regular 3 hour whale watch cruise but we wanted to get a general idea of just what was out there. We left port at 6 AM and headed south to an area called the McDormand Patch, but were forced to go elsewhere when the fog shut in and we were glad we did! It wasnt' too far into the cruise when we spotted 9 whales in the vicinity and all were involved in surface feeding. We were able to determine that they were feeding on krill, a small shrimp-like crustacean. Once we documented and photographed the individuals, we headed further and found more humpbacks. As the day progressed we were able to record 39 individual humpback whales, including two mother and calf pairs! They were identified as Knuckles, Foggy and Vector. Other whales that we photoidentified and sighted for the frist time in 2007 were: Mallard, Stub (Who we haven't seen here in the Bay since 1988), Hopper, Sequin, Ditto, Dapple, Spy, Porthole, Bungee and Cat's Paw.
We also recorded a number of Pilot whales in the area as well. This species is not native to the Bay of Fundy but will occasionally wander into the area chasing prey. The most interesting behavior that we witnesses was when Sunburst and his companion charged after the Pilots, as if protecting their territory. Maybe there is a reason why these smaller toothed whales do not come into the Bay!
Sunburst chasing Pilot Whales

To top things off , Gremlin and Luna flipper slapped next to the boat and for the grand finale, Gremlin breached so close I could almost touch him.

I felt so fortunate that day to have a job that I love, where I can observe these animals in their own habitat and for them not to feel threatened by our boats. Things sure have come a long way since the whaling days when boat were a definite threat. Now these creatures can approach these boats, investigating the occupants within and not feel that threat, instead we are in awe!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Brier Island Whales and Weather

Greetings whale watchers! The weather and whales have been excellent at Brier Island The last few days! Not only has the fog cleared......and hoping it stays that way.....but the whales have moved in as well. We have noticed an abundance of krill in our waters, which has been enticing the herring and the whales into our area. Not only are we seeing more humpbacks righ now but also more fin whales too! Fin whales are the second largest whale in the world, reaching lengths of 80 feet! Most of the humpback whales that we have seen have seen have been individuals that we have sighted previously such as Ase, Milkyway, Baton, Patch, Flame, Gondolier, Slumber, Raindrop, Foggy and her 2007 calf, Colorado and Patches. The above photo is of Foggy's calf. We have also documented some new whales for our area and they were identified as Calanus, Unequal, Mets, Iron and Zero. On a sad note Colorado was sighted without her calf. We had previously documented her with a calf in June but were dismayed when she was without. She was close by Foggy and her calf as if she wanted to be nursemaid. Sad!

Humpback whale named Ase.

Another treat has been sightings of the rarest large whale in the world, North Atlantic Right Whales. We were pleased to see a mother and her calf.

The birds have been very numerous with sightings of Puffins, Northern Gannets, Northern Fulmars, Wilson's Storm Petrels, Greater Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, an occasional Manx Shearwater, Red and Red Necked Phalaropes.

Phalaropes in flight.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Whales Galore!

Lunge feeding humpback whales

Last night was one of the best cruises that I have been on so far this year. There were plenty of humpback whales on Moore's Ledge due to the abundance of herring and krill. Whales could be seen surface feeding on the mixture. There was plenty of activity as well with breaching, tail breaching and tail lobbing.

Last week, we were able to conduct a short research cruise. It was quite productive as we documented two new moms for the area. They were identified as Shuttle (a local favourite) and Mocha. this brings our Bay of Fundy calf count to 13!

As always we are looking forward to the upcoming cruises, never knowing what they may bring!