#19: Weather can change so much in a day!

Tuesday, January 19, we woke up and the forecast was different than predicted the night before. The forecast had changed to 10-15 kts all day and there was a bit of unexpected fog that rolled in. So we waited about an hour for the fog to clear and took off at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.

As we started our survey the sea was a bit rougher than we thought it would be with the forecasted winds. We started south and as we continued surveying towards the north. The seas calmed down quite a bit.

By the time we were on our last survey line, around 4:00-ish, the seas had laid down so much that there were no whitecaps at all. Take a look at this picture (above left) of Eg#2660- Gannet (named for the scar on her head that looks like a diving gannet)- that we sighted at 4:30 p.m. Notice the calm water around her. About 6 minutes later Jess sighted a whale to the north of our transect line, Eg#1012- Pediddle (photo below). Pediddle was named for the white scar on her head that reminded researchers of a car with only one headlight.

Pediddle was breaching and tail slapping so we could find her much easier! Peddidle is one of our now 23 mothers down here. We did not see her calf with her; however, the behavior that she was exhibiting is something we have seen before with mothers whose calves wonder off a bit. The mother will breach or tail slap and then all of sudden the calf will come out of nowhere and the mother will stop this behavior. It's as if she is calling the calf back to her.

After we finished photographing Pediddle, we continued on our track line; then I saw a whale that was tail slapping about 2 miles to our south. When we broke from our track line to find the whale I lost the spot where I saw it; I wonder if this was Pediddle's calf (hmmm?!?)

Yesterday, we were grounded due to high winds. This morning the winds are pretty high, but scheduled to drop, so we are standing by waiting for the wind. Luckily the rest of the week looks great for flying and finding whales!

Photo caption:

1) Photo of Gannet (Eg#2660) in calm Beaufort sea state.
2) Photo of Peddidle (Eg#1012) in rough Beaufort sea state just a few miles east of Gannet.

~ Kara


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