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!