#7 Some Good News...WHALES!

As I type this the R/V Nereid is surveying the Grand Manan Basin in the Bay of Fundy. I’m back at the field house waiting for Internet technicians to arrive to help sort out some of our own going Internet problems. Working in the field has many challenges and keeping a field house in good working order (including Internet) is just one of those many challenges. However, it also seems that finding right whales this season is a bigger challenge then any of us anticipated.

Meanwhile the offshore researchers on Shelagh also have their work cut out for them. They have been covering approximately 100 nautical miles of trackline each day. The following is a quick summary of their trip so far.

 Day 1: (August 16): Left Campobello Island around 5:00 AM and headed for Grand Manan Banks   via Grand Manan Channel. Cut across the mouth of the Bay of Fundy and ran about 2/3 of their planned tracklines on Lurcher Shoal. The only large whales seen the entire day were two humpbacks and two fin whales. Spent the night in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

 Day 2: (August 17): The crew left Yarmouth prior to sunrise and continued tracklines of the remaining 1/3 of Lurcher Shoal. From Lurcher they headed to Roseway Basin. In addition to reporting lots of leatherback turtles, jellies and common dolphins the team found five right whales on the western edge of Roseway! Spent the night at sea.

    Catalog # 2360 Derecha was seen by the crew of the Shelagh on August 17. Deracha is an adult female first seen in 1993. This photograph was taken in 2010 but we will be sure to post a recent one once the team arrives home.
Photo: New England Aquarium

 Day 3: (August 18): Full day of survey in absolutely amazing sighting conditions. The crew had a sea state 2 most of the day and worked near the NE corner of the Roseway Basin. While the team did report seeing 2 Sei whales, a few mola molas and basking sharks they also noted a lack of birds. The crew spent the night at sea.

 Day 4: (August 19): The crew was up and on watch by first light. The working conditions were more difficult and work continued in a sea state 4 and 5 for most of the morning. Despite the difficult conditions the crew documented another right whale! The crew headed into Cape Sable Island by the afternoon for fuel and a solid night of sleep.

 Day 5: (August 20): The crew reports no right whales.  They spend the night at sea. 

The approximate route of the Shelagh on her offshore cruise to find right whales.
Tracklines are not to scale and right whale locations are approximate.

 In my last post I asked folks if they had any questions for the crew of the Shelagh. We got some great questions and many will need some time to answer. The questions have given us some great ideas for future blogs and so we will try our best to answer them all. For now I’m going to answer the questions that were the most appropriate to ask the crew while speaking via satellite phone.

Question: Are your bunks big? Can you stretch out and roll over?
Answer: (Philip reports)While the bunks are not overly spacious they are comfortable. Everyone can roll over and Kelsey (the tallest member of the team at 6’1”) reports that she can lay flat and stretch her legs out.



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