#3: The Art of Aerial Spotting

During yesterday's aerial survey our team spotted its first North Atlantic right whale of the season--even though the weather has been trying to keep us down, we are finally rolling here on the calving grounds! I'm ecstatic that we will be seeing more and more whales on our surveys now, since long stretches of surveying without whales can be quite mind-numbing. In fact, there's a definite art to spotting whales over miles and miles of textured, churning water.

When looking for something that's not a whitecap or a wave, a buoy or a bird on the ocean's surface, we basically have to train our minds to detect an aberration. As we scan back and forth, we need to find that one patch of white-water that's unlike the others, or that one shadow rolling a tad unusually. It's definitely not simple, and it takes a lot of practice. I think a good comparison would be looking at a pointillist painting, like Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and trying to find the one dot that doesn't belong. The photo above is an example of just how subtle a right whale at the sea surface can be.



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