Blog #6: Migration North

April 1, 2008
Fernandina Beach, FL

April 1st has always been a day of mixed emotions for me. First, I am extremely happy that the season was successful. We documented 18 mom/calf pairs and over 70 other individual whales while we worked hard to help protect all of them from ship strikes on the calving ground. In addition, we collected an amazing amount of data on right whales distribution and occurrence in this critical

However, I did find myself extremely happy this morning that for first time in 122 days I do not have to wake up on schedule and check the marine and aviation weather. I don't have to coordinate with other aerial survey teams or biopsy teams on the water. I don't have to decide where it might be most important for us to fly first. Our survey covers two of the major shipping channels in the critical habitat and we could have whales in or around either one, or both at any given time. Our biggest problem is we can't be in two places at once. Each day I find myself asking, "Am I making the right decision to fly north first today ... what if whales are close to the Jax Channel (the St. Johns River Entrance, Jacksonville, FL)?" Sometimes I worry about making a bad weather decision and think "the weather does not look as bad as was forecast, should I be out there ... what if whales are in a channel?" These are some of the pressures I struggle with on a daily basis.

However, I also find myself anxious to get home. We have all been away from our homes, friends and families for four months and this can take its toll. It will also be nice to get back to a "normal" work schedule and have a weekend off! On the other hand leaving Fernandina Beach is also in some respects difficult. For me, after nine winters here it always feels like I am leaving my second home and my second family. The transition is always a bit difficult, but mostly I keep my fingers crossed that the right whales we documented this winter will make the migration north safely. We are currently in the midst of a packing frenzy as Jon, Kara, Gabby and myself also begin to make our migration north. This will be the last entry in our field season blog and I do hope that you have enjoyed it. We look forward to reporting to you this summer from working in the Bay of Fundy from our field station in Lubec, Maine. Stay tuned and we should be blogging by August.


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