#18: Another New Mother Right Whale Discovered

We've had two more days on the water since last we reported. August 22nd was an exciting day because yet another new mother for the year was discovered! Whale #1123, "Sonnet," was seen for the first time this year, and she was with a calf. At age 27, this is Sonnet's fourth calf.

The discovery of two new mothers for the year in the Bay of Fundy hasn't happened since survey effort on the calving ground in the southeast intensified in the early 1990's. (See this blog entry on the first mom discovered here this year.)

At the young age of 8 months or so, Sonnet's calf (at left) already bears the scars from an entanglement in fishing lines that had been wrapped around her head, a grim reminder of the peril these animals face. Click on the picture to see the injuries up close.

Another exciting sighting was that of whale #1208 (shown at left, use the Right Whale Catalog to look her up), a reproductive female that has only been seen in the Bay of Fundy three times in two different years. In both years she was with a calf. Could she also have a calf this year? Only time (and better weather!) will tell.

Besides our occasional trips to sea, our lives at the Whale House have been busy on land as well. Several colleagues from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario came to meet about future research and funding opportunities for right whales. They have been using DNA analyses to unravel many of the mysteries of this species including paternities and the potential role the small gene pool is having on reproduction. Three and half days of meeting resulted in many thorough and thoughtful discussions and hypotheses. We are often all so busy that we don't have time to think about the big picture and we all found it very rewarding.


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