#22: End of the Season

Our field season in the Bay of Fundy has ended. It was a demanding and exciting season this year with all sorts of media coverage, interesting whales, and unusual whale distributions. We had a few of different research vessels on the water this season and were able to cover a large area of the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin.

The r/v Nereid went out 23 times and the r/v Callisto was able to get out 7 times, both surveying the Bay of Fundy. During the last week of August into early September, a few members of our team set out to Novia Scotia for a 10-day long survey of the Roseway Basin Area To Be Avoided. The last time a thorough population survey was conducted in Roseway Basin was in 2006. We were able to document 20 of the 39 mother and calf pairs this season and so far we have identified 141 right whales in the Bay of Fundy and approximately 40 more in Roseway Basin. These numbers will be sure to grow once the data is fully processed.

In August, a story ran on the front page of the Bangor Daily News about our research. The story ran on their website with a great video displaying a typical day as a right whale researcher. In September, Chris Corday from the Canadian Broadcasting Center came to video interview our team for a spot on the CBC's The National.

We saw a number of interesting whales as well, one in particular, Pico (#3270), who swam to the Azores last January. It is usual to have a right whale sighting in the eastern Atlantic and we were all curious if we would see Pico again. Pico is an example of how right whales can and do travel outside of their typical migration route along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Other interesting whales sighted in the bay were Ruffian (#3530), who, last January, sustained injuries all over his head and body on his migration to the southeast habitat, and Calvin (#2223) and her calf who were sighted once in the calving grounds this past winter and not again until September.

Right whale distributions were noticeably different this year compared to previous years. Right whales sightings near the wolves (a chain of islands miles north of the usual habitat) we last recorded during the early 1980s. That's 30 years ago!

The weather turned foul during the last week of the field season so we packed up the research station and headed south back to Boston. We are always sad to leave the bay knowing that whales are still in the bay, but this year find some closure knowing that foul weather continues to haunt the bay.

Now back in Boston, we have to prepare for the Biennial Marine Mammal Conference in Quebec City, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium and the Southeast field season in Fernandina Beach, FL starting December 1st.