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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

Month: May 2007

More new mothers off New England

Hello there, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine here to report 2 new mothers on the feeding grounds off the New England states.

Rune, seen here was first seen in 1980, is the mother of at least 7 calves, with her most recent calf this year.

This is Shark and she was reported travelling with a calf and Raccoon just east of Stellwagen bank on Saturday, May 26th.

Humpback whales are relatively easy to tell apart from one another because of the unique pigmentation on the underside of their flukes. The humpbacks we see in the Bay of Fundy are part of the Gulf of Maine population and during our whale watch season I photograph every humpback we see each and every trip we are out. This data is given to researchers at Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies to help learn more about the population as a whole.

Thanks for checking in….more to come soon.

3 new mothers in the Gulf of Maine

Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that even though it’s too early for whales in the Bay of Fundy, humpbacks and finbacks are arriving daily in other parts of the Gulf of Maine from their wintering grounds. Three new humpback mothers have been reported in the Stellwagen Bank area. These whales include:


Nile (image by PCCS), born in 1987 has now had 3 known calves; Amazon (1998), Aswan (2000) and her new 2007 calf.



Pepper (image by PCCS), first sighted in 1976 and is part of the original Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue. Pepper now has 7 known calves but no known grandcalves; Aurora (1982), Siete (1986), Tadpole (1989), Paprika (1992), Zenith (1996), Bishop (1998), Habenero (1997) and her new 2007 calf.


Perseid (image by PCCS). This is her first known calf.

Thanks for reading and keep checking back for more whale news.

IFAW asks Quoddy Link Marine for help in their fight against commercial whaling

Hello there, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine with a serious message today.

Quoddy Link Marine works cooperatively with Allied Whale, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, The New England Aquarium and Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station providing crucial whale sighting information. We are also part of the the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network, standing by and helping when we can with photographs and staying with the whale until the disentanglement team arrives from Campobello Island.

Yesterday I was contacted by IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, asking for my help to spread the word about their campaign to help stop the slaughtering of whales for commercial purposes. The email included this message,

“On May 28th the U.S. is hosting the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Annual Meeting, which is in jeopardy of being led by a pro-whaling majority for the first time in 30 years.

Fifty humpback whales have already been added to this year’s hunt quota by Japan . This, in addition to habitat destruction and global warming makes it more imperative than ever to support the cause to stop whaling. To help spread awareness, IFAW will travel to the IWC meeting in the Cape Air IFAW Whale Plane, a Cessna 402 painted with inspiring images of humpback whales by famed airbrush artist Jürek, renowned for his Grateful Dead artwork. The plane will travel across the country from May 10th to 20th making stops in key cities to spread the word, and carrying 50 children’s drawings of humpback whales to present to decision makers at the IWC in Anchorage , Alaska.

Patrick Ramage, the Global Whale Program Manager will be posting updates on this important campaign, along with ways to help save the whales, on his blog: Update from the Whales Need Us plane

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. First, I want to wish all Moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.

On the Mother’s Day theme, another female humpback, Loon, was reported with a calf off Cape Cod. That brings the total to 8 calves so far reported in the Gulf of Maine.

I have some good new to report. The right whale that was reported entangled on September 27, 2006, 17.5 nm southeast of Swallowtail, Grand Manan in the Bay of Fundy was sighted gear-free . Disentanglement attempts occurred in the Bay of Fundy as well as off the coast of Georgia in January. The right whale was sighted on May 11, 2007 only 200 yards from shore off the east coast of Cape Cod close to Truro, MA and appears to be gear free (see image on right).

That’s all for now, thanks for checking in.

Quoddy Link Marine is going GREEN!

Hello, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine, keeping you posted on all things Quoddy.

First, Quoddy Link Marine is going green. Wind turbines have been installed at our office and are currently powering our exterior lighting. Expansions are soon to come and will include interior lighting, cash register, computer and LCD screen. In order to include the interior parts of the office solar panels will have to be added.

Second, I want to report that our upper deck has been certified by Marine Safety to carry 30 passengers instead of 20. Our capacity is still 47 passengers and 3 crew, the change just allows more guests to enjoy the Bay of Fundy breeze at the same time. There are advantages to viewing from both the upper and lower deck. The upper deck gives the advantage of height, allowing our passengers to look down into the water, and on sunny, clear days you may even be able to see the entire body of a whale through the surface of the water. The lower deck allows you to be at the same level of the water and to view the whales from a completely different angel. The majority of my photos are from the lower deck. The lower deck also allows you to get out of the sun and wind for a while. My advice would be to experience both, the upper and lower deck, it’s worth it!

Third, another mom has been reported by Whale Center of New England. Lavalier was photographed with her calf on May 2/07 on Stellwagen Bank.
Another FAQ!!

What kinds of whales will we see?

A very common question. What kinds, or species, of whales we will see will depend on many factors, including; the time of season, the weather and where your captain is willing to take you. The time of season is very important. In our section of the Bay of Fundy, typically minke whales are the first species to arrive (usually around mid-June), the finbacks are next (usually around the beginning of July) and then the humpbacks (usually around mid-August but sometimes as early as the beginning of July).

The weather, another factor we have no control over. Sometimes the weather may dictate where we go, if it’s too windy or foggy we may not to be able to travel to the “offshore area”, where we usually see the larger whales like finbacks and humpbacks. Minke whales are usually more common in the inshore, protected areas and when the weather is bad, the inshore area may remain calm and relatively warm. Please feel free to check on the weather forecast the evening before your trip but all trips aren’t decided upon until about 30 minutes prior to departure.

The one factor we can control is where we choose to take our passengers. If the weather co-operates, and the season is right for larger whales, like finbacks and humpbacks, sometimes there is a choice where to go. There are many times when there are whales about 10 miles from St. Andrews and whales 16-20 miles from St. Andrews and at these times we may have the choice to stop and stay at the first whales we see……or go further. With Quoddy Link Marine, we always go further. I have worked with the company for 6 years now and I can’t think of a time when John or Matt (our 2 captains) didn’t choose to go the distance to show our passengers the larger whales. To tell you the truth, we want to see the finbacks and humpbacks as well. Our Scout Boat helps out here as well, scouting the further locations for us, so when we leave St. Andrews we may not even stop at the closer whales (they may be close but there is almost always too much boat traffic). If we can show our passengers finbacks and/or humpbacks over minke whales, we will try. We will also try to leave boat traffic behind, it’s not the best viewing experience to have too many boats with the whales and more importantly, it’s not good for the whales either.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is ASK QUESTIONS, visit the various tour companies, look at the boats and make an educated decision about the company you want to go whale watching with, and we hope you choose us, Quoddy Link Marine!

That’s all for today’s update! Keep checking back and we’ll see you in St. Andrews!

New mothers in the Gulf of Maine

Even though our whale watching season doesn’t start until the end of June in St. Andrews, humpback whales are already arriving on their summer feeding grounds off Massachusetts. Our humpbacks are part of the Gulf of Maine population and I want to keep you posted on the new mothers and familiar “faces” when they are sighted. Humpback whales are named and identified based on the black and white pigmentation on the underside of their flukes (the whale on the left is Parachute, a humpback I have been photographing since 2003). The names are not gender specific because usually at the time of naming the sex of the whale is not known.
The new mothers for 2007 so far are:
Blackhole
Fern
Photon
Reflection
Roswell
Scratch
I will keep you posted, if there are questions please feel free to drop me an email.

More FAQ’s…..All about whales

Hello again, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. I thought that I would share some more “Frequently Asked Questions” with you, these ones all about the whales…

Can we touch the whales?

NO, we don’t touch or feed the whales, we can’t “call them with a whistle”, and most likely we don’t even know right where they are when we leave St. Andrews. The whales, as well as the seals, porpoise and all of the other animals we see, are wild. It is their home, and they go where they want. Sometimes the whales do set up patterns, and this can make them much easier to find. We do have a “Scout Boat” which can leave before our trip and help search for the whales.

How close will we get to the whales?

Honestly, we can’t answer that before we leave, because these are wild animals but the most important point you must know is our captains are very experienced (over 12 years on the water with whales) and they know how to position the boat so as to give you the best view of the whales. You always want to travel with the whales, letting them lead the way, so they can change direction when they want, and you never want to be in a position to cut a whale off. When we view these animals we must respect their boundaries and stay a safe distance away, it is so important for their survival. It is very important to note that Quoddy Link Marine is a signee to the Bay of Fundy Whale Watchers Code of Ethics (http://www.bayoffundytourism.com/environmental_leadership/code_of_ethics.php).

Will the whales “jump”?

This is a very common question. The act of jumping or “breaching” out of the water is an awe-inspiring thing to see, but it doesn’t happen on every trip. The most common whales that breach in our area are humpback whales, usually seen in August-October in our part of the Bay of Fundy.

Will the whale raise its tail?

Another very common question. Not all whales raise their tail. Humpback whales will most likely raise their tail on their terminal dive (whales will usually do a series of dives and then arch their back and dive deeper, this final dive is called a “terminal dive”). Finbacks, the second largest whale in the world and much larger than humpbacks do not typically raise their tail. Finback whales can reach lengths of over 70 feet and weigh more than 180,000 lb.

Why is that whale all alone?

Baleen whales, like humpacks, finbacks and minke whales are commonly found alone or in small, unstable groups. These groups form and may stay together for a few days, a few weeks or only a few minutes. It is very common to see a humpback whale travelling on their own. Humpback, finback and minke whales are here in the Bay of Fundy to feed and nurse their young, you don’t see the large groups like you would on breeding grounds. The Bay of Fundy is an important feeding, nursing and courting ground for the North Atlantic right whale, who can often be seen in large aggregations, known as surface active groups or “SAG’s”. We usually do a few right whale trips a season, taking a limited number of passengers 30-40 nm from St. Andrews out into the middle of Bay of Fundy in search of right whales. Please keep in touch if you are interested in our special right whale trips.

OK, that’s all for now, if you have any questions of your own please feel free to send me an email. Keep in touch and read more about Quoddy Link Marine and our adventures on the Bay of Fundy, or better yet come and join us and experience the Bay…..Catamaran Style.