Well, on December 13th, everything lined up and we completed our 4th trip. Our research crew drove up to Bar Harbor the day before and arose at 3:30 the next day to make the most of our one day at sea ("early bird catches the worm" and all that- not that we saw any early birds that morning)! The seas were a bit lumpy as we headed out in the dark aboard the M/V Friendship V, but thankfully calmed down for the middle part of the day before changing directions and increasing again (another one of those darned eager shoppers coming through)! We were fortunate to have a host of volunteers from many different agencies on board to help with the spotting.
We covered quite a bit of ground that day and ended up near Cashes Ledge- 80 nautical miles from the dock at Southwest Harbor, Maine. We are excited about our findings and eager to get back out there next year- funders willing. There is still more to do in the area- especially the detailed documentation of their courtship behavior (we saw none on this particular trip) and the collection of poop for hormone assessments to see how the levels in both males and females change during the time of peak conception. We will be lucky to observe either of these and simply need to be in the right place at the right time. Until we are able to retun to the area, we will have to wait to see what the females we saw do. In 12 months, we hope to see many of them off the southeast US with young calves! Stay tuned.