#3 One Right Whale And Counting

We had a perfect first day on the water last Monday. The Bay was calm and visibility was excellent which normally makes spotting whales much easier. A colleague who works on a whale watch vessel in the area informed us she had not seen any right whales for the last few weeks, but their boat had not been out into the deepest part of the Bay of Fundy where the right whales are usually found. We focused our survey in the Right Whale Critical Habitat area in the Grand Manan Basin. We didn’t even make it across the Grand Manan Channel before Jenny, a newbie, spotted a right whale traveling up the middle of the channel. We suspected it to be a humpback but after a second look we confirmed it was a right whale, the first of the season! The whale has been identified as Eg #3660 (Click here and search for #3660 to see a full sighting history of this individual). It was unusual to see a right whale in the Channel, most of the right whale sightings over the decades have been in the deep water east of Grand Manan Island.

After such a surprising sighting, I suspected a busy first day as we worked out the early season kinks. As it turns out, we would not see another right whale all day. We did, however, see almost every other large marine creature to be found in the Bay. On our way toward the basin to start the first survey transect line we saw basking shark after basking shark (19 in total). It was easy to spot their black triangular dorsal fin from hundreds of yards away since the water was so calm and our view was uninhibited by waves or swell. Off in the distance, a group of humpbacks gave us quite a show breaching, sometimes simultaneously, and slapping their flippers and tails against the water. We saw several schools of tuna and even a breaching Mola mola, or ocean sunfish. The species list was rounded off with hundreds of porpoise, a couple fin whales, harbour seals and a minke whale.

All and all, it was a great day for us to get back in the survey groove and allow the new crew members, myself included, to get use to procedures and protocols on the boat. The next few days are calling for bad weather but hopefully the whales will slip in with the fog and keep us busy all summer.


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