Since our first survey in the Bay of Fundy last Monday, we have only been able to get out to the Bay one other day (Saturday). The wind and fog have been relentless, forcing us to stay onshore for several days at a time (Click here to view a blog about Bay of Fundy weather). We were able to survey in the Bay last Saturday, however, we were forced to come in earlier than planned after the wind switched from NW 5-10 kts to SW 10-15 kts more quickly than forecasted. Normally 10-15 knots of wind is not a problem, but the wind was blowing against the outgoing tide making the seas too rough to collect data from our small boat. Although the weather cooperated long enough to complete a partial survey, we did not see any right whales.
Whale watch vessel Elsie Menota in the Bay of Fundy
However, a naturalist aboard a whale watch vessel out of Grand Manan Island located a mom/calf pair on Saturday west of the critical habitat area. They were able to take photographs of both individuals which we used to identify them as Insignia (Eg# 2645) and her calf.
Whale watch vessels are an excellent platform for education and public awareness of the issues facing right whales. Similarly, Thursday morning, during a team meeting, we received a call from a local whale watch vessel who informed us there was a right whale in the inland waters of Head Harbour Passage near Campobello Island, a mere mile from our dock. The crew aboard the whale watch boat didn't have a camera, so we broke up our research meeting, gathered our gear and headed for the boat. There was thick fog as the R/V Nereid left the dock in our impromptu attempt to locate and photograph the whale. However, before the team reached the whale's last known location, the fog had closed in again and the whale could not be found.
We often work with crews and naturalists on whale watch vessels in the Bay to locate right whales and, as in Saturday's right whale sighting from the Elsie Menota, obtain identification photographs. In this case their efforts resulted in the confirmation of the first mom/calf pair of the season in the Bay of Fundy!