#7: Interesting matches in the Bay

We are all in the house processing this season's data as Hurricane Bill approaches from the south. Luckily the forecast of 45-55 knots (52 to 63 mph) has diminished to 30-40 knots for Sunday. Still no weather to be at sea, but less dangerous for our boat in the harbor. Meanwhile, we will all settle in and match whales.

We have identified 57 whales so far and there are some interesting stories among them. There are a number of big, old males here and one of them, "Tips" (Eg #1124 in the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog), has a particularly unusual sighting history. Seen most years from 1980 to 1991, he disappeared for nine years before being re-sighted off Massachusetts in 2000. He hadn't been seen in the Bay of Fundy for 16 years until he visited in 2007. Now, he seems to come in for a single day each year and then moving on. We will be curious to see if that pattern continues this year; I suspect we will not see him again until next August.

Another interesting story this year involves the mothers and their calves. With the record calving of 39 calves this year, we expect to see a lot of mother/calf pairs in the Bay this season. We did see seven of them early in the season, but have only seen two in the last 11 days (the most recent unusually close to Grand Manan island).

While it is not uncommon for the mother/calf pairs to be somewhat segregated from other whales, it is unusual not to see them at all! Are they still here but not in the broad box that we survey? Have they moved on to another area? And, with the exception of the mothers, why are all but three of the adult whales in the Bay big males? With a few days of bad weather ahead of us, it will be a while before we can continue our surveys and collect the necessary clues to potentially answer these and other questions. Stay tuned!

- Philip

Photo caption:
1) Whale #1124, Tips, in the the Bay of Fundy- 2009,
2) A map of the Bay of Fundy with Grand Manan Island,
3) The calf of #3440 off North Head, Grand Manan.

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