#18 Bay of Warmth (Part 3): Heading Offshore for Right Whales

This is Part Three of a series of posts about surveys taking place in the Baie de Chaleur in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Click on the links to read Part One and Part Two!

With three full days of survey in excellent conditions and no right whales to be seen we were rejuvenated by a report from our colleagues in the air.  An aerial survey had found a group of approximately 15 right whales about 40 miles offshore of Miscou Island, New Brunswick.  Miscou marks the separation of Baie des Chaleur with the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In order to travel to the reported location in the R/V Callisto we needed a day of preparation.  The sighting was far from our wharf (about 80 miles) and we quickly realized that moving the Callisto and launching from Lameque Island  (via Miscou Harbor) made more sense. However, the drive would take over two hours on dark, secondary roads well before sunrise if we wanted to be on the water at first light.  We had been warned many times from the locals about the real threat of moose on the road and car accidents. We took advantage of a windy day on land and packed our food cooler, equipment and the boat and drove to Caraquet (about halfway between Janeville and Miscou Harbor).

With our rented life raft in place we were ready to head offshore. Photo: Monica Zani
Alex and Brigid navigate the narrow, sandy cut between Miscou Island and Lameque Island called Fox Den Gully. Photo: Monica Zani

In Caraquet we rented a life raft  and booked a hotel room for the night.  Our morning offshore would begin very early as we planned on leaving the hotel around 5:00 am to continue our drive to Miscou Harbor.

Two fin whales swim in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Photo: Monica Zani
 The weather proved amazing for our trip offshore and spirits were high that we would be able to find the small aggregation that had been sighted just three days prior by the aerial survey.  However, after a full day of survey we only logged fin whales, minkes and a few sightings of tuna.  Feeling disappointed at what we thought was a sure thing we headed back to shore discouraged but thankful for the gorgeous weather and sighting conditions.
The entrance to Miscou Harbor via Fox Den Gully is narrow but extremely well marked. Photo: Monica Zani

Keep reading! Click here to read Part Four!.

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