After enduring a myriad of issues on our August Roseway Basin trip, including battling the fog monster and a broken generator, we placed all of our hope for whales on the September trip. Things could only get better…right?
We had a slightly different crew this time around: Hilary Moors-Murphy from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Jen Gatzke from Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), and Jerry Conway from Canadian Whale Institute (CWI) joined Captain Joe, Moe, Marianna, and me. We loaded the Shelagh and departed Campobello Island late in the afternoon on September 7th and headed southeast.
The plan was to steam through the night, arrive at Roseway Basin at dawn the following morning and begin surveying from there. The two takeaways from that first night: the Shelagh can handle some rough seas, and that eating lasagna for dinner will come back to haunt you in a Beaufort 6.
The seas slowly improved as we worked the southern part of the Basin on our first survey day. We had a few dolphins, but besides that, it was relatively quiet out there above the surface of the water. As the sun set, we decided to take a listen under the water. Hilary, who specializes in acoustics, brought along a hydrophone array for us to listen to underwater ocean noise (and right whales vocalizing) in real time.
|The hydrophone. Photo credit: Marianna Hagbloom|
Essentially, she tossed the hydrophone over the side of the boat and slowly let out meters of cable. From specialized acoustic software on her computer, she was able to record and actively scan for a variety of species-specific whale calls.
Hilary deployed the hydrophone occasionally throughout the entire trip, but unfortunately the most we ever heard was a distant sperm whale and a few dolphin clicks and whistles. Nevertheless, it was great to have an alternative searching tool, especially when the fog rolled in on September 9th, eventually forcing us to head for the town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia for a few days.
|The adorable town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. We appreciated getting to explore a different port of call this time around. Photo credit: Marianna Hagbloom|