Just after midnight last Wednesday, August 25, the fishing vessel Rominic, fully stocked with food, water, ice and all of our research gear, left the wharf in Wilson's Beach on Campobello Island. The first couple of days were pretty rough due to high seas, moderate wind and no right whales. All of the crew, except Captain Papier, were feeling pretty miserable at the start but by day 2 and 3 everyone had fully adjusted to our new rockin' n rollin' home. Our days started early, between 6 and 7 am, and ended around sunset. Click here to see our daily routine.
Surface active group (SAG) in Roseway BasinWe had planned to survey from east to west, but on Friday morning we woke up to thick fog. We motored west and broke through into clear skies near the middle of the Basin. We started our survey for whales heading west from the middle of the Basin but only a few right whales were spotted over the first two survey days. After the west side was completed, we motored back during the night to our starting point and were rewarded with an aggregation of right whales on the eastern side. In total, we photographed approximately 30 individual right whales (pending photo analyses) on Roseway Basin.
We left on Tuesday morning (August 31). By 9 am the waves were building and the wind increasing, and with the news of an approaching hurricane by the end of the week it was time to steam home. Our trip home proved to be an unexpected surprise as we came across a very active group of whales SW of Lurcher Shoal. In this group we had our only mom/calf pair (Aphrodite/2010Calfof1701) plus a close encounter by the calf, the largest SAG of the trip AND we observed several of the whales subsurface feeding. We were even able to collect a copepod (right whale food) sample to confirm the whales were feeding in this area.
Right whale skim feeding at the surface. This whale appeared to be ill - Note the discoloration of the callosities.
Other species highlights were bow-riding common dolphins, breaching humpbacks, curious approaches by a minke whale and a blue shark, several leatherback turtles, ocean sunfish, a merlin that flew right in the wheelhouse as we were preparing dinner and a warbler.
Two bow-riding common dolphins - Photo by Moe Brown