8/1/12

#1: Back in the field

For New England Aquarium right whale researchers, this is one of the most wonderful times of the year: The Bay of Fundy field season! This marks our 33rd year of conducting right whale surveys and research in the Bay. Our 2012 team members hail from all over North America: Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York, Washington, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Every day that the weather permits during the next two months, we'll head out on our trusty research vessel Nereid into the Grand Manan Basin right whale critical habitat in the lower Bay of Fundy.



During a typical survey, we'll record counts of marine mammals and sharks, take photographs and record behavioral information of each individual right whale observed, and collect biopsy samples from specific right whales for our genetic database. And of course if we see a right whale defecate, we'll be right there with our pooper scooper to collect a sample for hormonal analysis!

August 1, 2012. R/V Nereid waits patiently. Due to a lovely combination of rain, wind and fog, we won't be leaving the dock today.


In addition to the annual monitoring survey by the New England Aquarium team, our field station here in Lubec, Maine will also be home to a team from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Syracuse University. It will be this team's third year of collecting mother-calf pair acoustic and behavioral data in the Bay of Fundy, and we hope it will be a fruitful year for them! 2012 was a calving year of low numbers—seven calves were born into the population this winter, and we know that one of those calves did not survive. The Bay is popular with about 2/3 of mothers, so we should see several of these pairs this summer.

So far, only a few right whale sightings have been reported in the Bay of Fundy, most of those from around Nova Scotia in late June and early July. There have been a few sightings of sperm whales, which always make us go "Hmm..." In 30 years of surveying the Bay, our team had never seen sperm whales spending time here until 2010. These large whales also showed up last year, so this marks the third consecutive year of this species being observed in the area. Hmm...

Our monitoring surveys are supported by grants from Irving Oil (St. John, New Brunswick) and the Island Foundation (Marion, MA). If you would like to support our research, you can make a donation by sponsoring a right whale!

We hope you'll follow us this season on Twitter (#rightwhalescoop) and through our Facebook Group. Here's to another great season!

12 comments:

  1. Happy to have you all back in the Bay!
    -Quoddy Link :)

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    1. Looking forward to seeing you out there! Or at least talking to you on the radio :) Hope you all have a great, busy season!

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  2. Welcome back. I've been following your work in the Bay for 30 years, and I have visited twice. Please know I'll be watching.

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  3. I hope you have a wonderful season!

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    1. Thanks, Jenny! We'll miss having you, Travis and Kijig in the field with us!

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  4. I hope you guys have lots of whales and lots of calm, clear weather!

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    1. Hey Trish! Thanks for the well wishes! First day on the water was yesterday (blog #2 soon to come!), but we're back to battling the fog again. Hope you are doing great!

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  5. Good luck up there! Tell those fossils Amy, Moe, Flip and Mx that CAQ says hi!

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    1. The fossils say thank you and hello :)

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  6. Best of luck with the field season. Hi to Philip,Amy etc from James. I've sponsored #1127=Dash in the past.

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