9/8/10

#15 Seven Days At Sea - Roseway Basin

Kara, Candace, Yan and Zach loading the Rominic with food and gear before heading out.

The crew returned from Roseway Basin around 4 am, last Wednesday morning, after an 18 hour trip of 175 nautical miles. We unloaded the boat under the deck lights, loaded the truck and made our way back to Lubec. As we crossed back into the US from Campobello Island, customs officials asked few questions as our weary faces, blank from exhaustion, showed the effects of 7 consecutive days at sea.

Yan and Kara sorting out the data collected for the day.

Moe on the satellite phone checking in with the Whale House and getting a weather update.

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 Basin

We 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.

Curious approach by 2010Calfof1701

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

Although our survey efforts were not rewarded with as many right whale sightings as in past years on Roseway Basin, we did document that the whales are in the area, and that there is a small aggregation at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. The survey provides another piece to the puzzle of right whale distribution this year, that there seem to be small groups aggregating in several areas around the Gulf of Maine.

Zach

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the informative updates. I was concerned about your team and the approaching hurricane. The pictures and videos are amazing. I've been following you folks for years and have been to the Bay twice. You do such wounderful and important work. Thanks again for the updates.

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  2. I think it's so cool that you say Common dolphins.

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  3. We were very excited to see Common dolphins, especially so close to the boat. We've seen quite a few common dolphins in the Bay of Fundy this year as well. Thanks for all the work that you Calvineers do! We hope you have a great year.

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  4. Calvineer Lily ChaseNovember 2, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    This is really cool. I wish that I could have seen that calf up so close, it would have been amazing! I hope that you have had a good season, and thanks for the great pictures!

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