Hello everyone! Well, now that the season is really officially over and the boats are put to bed for the season I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who joined us during this unforgettable season. It was most certainly one I will never forget.
Probably the most special part of the season was the amount of time that we were able spend with the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. These whales, whose world wide population is now estimated at around 415, are commonly found in the Bay of Fundy from mid July-October, but typically on their critical feeding grounds, around the Grand Manan Basin in middle of the mouth of the Bay. This season, for about 1.5 weeks the very end of August and the beginning of September there were a number of right whales who made their way much closer to St. Andrews. There were about 10 individuals, including 2 mom/calf pairs documented between the Wolves and the Northern tip of Campobello Island and about 40 individuals documented behind the Wolves. We also had the chance to do a very special right whale trip that took us ~40 miles from St. Andrews directly out into the middle of the old shipping lanes (they were moved in order to protect the North Atlantic right whale) where we were surrounded by an estimated 40+ right whales (the next day, which was clear and had great visibility, in the same area where we were there were approximately 75-100 right whales seen). To spend this time with right whales and to see the scars and injuries caused by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement had a great effect on me, shocked me every single time I saw these scars….these whales deserve so much more from us and we need to find a way to help these whales and preserve a struggling fishing industry at the same time. If you want to read more about this check out the book Entanglements: The Intertwined Fates of Whales and Fisherman.
I wanted to share 2 videos from out trips this season with right whales.
This is Tips, RW1124, an adult male first documented in the Bay in 1980. We spent 4 trips with Tips and every time we saw curiosity like this…we fell in LOVE with Tips this season.
This video is a SAG, a Surface Active Group. SAG’s are often seen with right whales and here on feeding grounds SAG’s are a courtship behaviour involving a single, focal female and a number of males. The whale on her back in the video, with her belly up is the female. SAG’s on feeding grounds are not for conception.
If you want to see more video and pictures from our trips this season with North Atlantic right whales scroll back through this blog. Also, for more right whale info check out rightwhale.ca
Our time spent with right whales was limited to a very small part of our 2009 season….it was just such a memorable part for me but from the middle of August until the end of our season we spent time with the most recognizable and probably the most loved of all the large whales, the humpback. Part of whale we do at Quoddy is photo ID, this means that when we see humpbacks we always try our very best to get a good shot of underside of the fluke (tail)….and with right whales we try our best to photograph the callosity pattern on the head and we send the photographs down to the New England Aquarium. With humpbacks they are individually ID’ed by the pigmentation on the underside of the fluke, the black and white patterns and then given names on those patterns. This season we documented the most number of humpbacks, 34, since we have been keeping track in 2004. With humpbacks there were a number of highlights….seeing Cork again, a 7 year old female we are so fond of at Quoddy Link….seeing a number adults, including Spoon, known to be incredibly BIG….and 2 mom and calf pairs! This was the first season in my 8 years with Quoddy that we have documented a mom/calf humpback pair in our part of the Bay of Fundy and it was incredible!
Here is a list of the humpbacks we saw during the 2009 season.
Arrowhead – a male first seen in 1976, Quoddy also saw in 2007
Blanco – a female and the 1989 calf of Asterisk, Quoddy also saw in 2007
Clamp ’08 calf
Colorado – a female first seen in 1998
Colorado ’09 calf – the 2009 calf of Colorado
Cord – a female and the 2002 calf of Bungee
Cork – a female and the 2002 calf of Mica, seen by Quoddy every season since 2004
Crystal – a male and the 1980 calf of Salt
EKG – seen by Quoddy every season since 2006 (was an unknown)
Flyer – a male first seen in 1979
Grand Manan – a male and the 2002 calf of Fundy
Inlet – seen by Quoddy in 2008 (was an unknown)
Mahjong – the 2007 calf of Lacey
Meristem – seen by Quoddy in 2008 (was an unknown)
Notchy – a male first seen in 1981
Patchwork – a male first seen in 1997
Pike – the 2007 calf of Six, seen by Quoddy in 2008
Platform – a female first seen in 1997
Quarternote – a male and the 2001 calf of Buckshot, seen by Quoddy in 2005 and 2006
Siphon- a female first seen in 1992, 6 known calves
Siphon ’09 calf – a female and the 2009 calf of Siphon
Sonogram – a female and the 2004 calf of Peedee, seen by Quoddy in 2006
Spar ’08 calf – the 2008 calf of Spar
Spinnaker – a female born in 2004, seen by Quoddy since 2007
Spoon – a female first seen in 1979
Teather ’08 calf – the 2008 calf of Teather
Tornado – a female and the 1981 calf of Fringe
Touchdown ’08 calf – the 2008 calf of Touchdown
and 4 unknowns
The 4 unknowns and the 2008 calves will be put up for naming next spring, I will do a separate post for whale naming so please get your thinking caps on! We need to think of some great names.
Below are a few videos of humpbacks from the 2009 season…
This in one of the unknowns that will be put up for naming next spring and was also our first humpback sighting in 2009
This is Cork playing in rockweed
This is Patchwork
These 2 videos are of Siphon, her precious baby girl and Crystal
And this season was not only amazing for humpbacks and right whales but we had so many trips with incredible fin whale sightings, many right of East Quoddy Head Light and some amazing lunge feeding minke whale sightings as well as bluefin tuna! Take a look back through the blog for lots of photos and more videos from the 2009 season.
The season was one that we will never forget, we saw the most number and variety of whales CLOSE TO HOME that John has ever seen…it was such a special season.
The one thing that Jolinne and myself really wanted to do this season was to make sure that people “got it”…to make sure that they understood the privilege of spending the time with the whales. You know, not everyone “got it” but the people that did….they really “got it” and that’s why I do my job. Thank You to everyone who shared with us your excitement and awe of the whales…thank you for emailing me with your kind words….thank you for reading this blog and thank you for the flowers!
Keep in touch with the blog and on Twitter and Facebook. I will post whale sightings from breeding grounds and share interesting links.
Thank You all and we will see you in 2010.