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Whales and Wildlife, Catamaran Style

Author: Danielle Dion

The disentanglement of a young minke whale – July 20, 2015

Hello everyone, it’s Danielle with Quoddy Link.  Today’s post is going to be a little bit different as we had quite the experience yesterday and I am going to do my best to share  it with you all.  So, here it goes…..

It was a foggy day and when we are searching for minke whales in the fog it can be difficult.  Really, we simply move slowly through areas where minkes typically like to feed and we keep the communication with the other boats.  With no luck in the Islands Captain Mat decided to take us off towards Bliss Island to see if there was any visibility and maybe some whales up there.  We were not in the area for very long before Jolinne and Nick on the upper deck spotted a minke whale.  When we got a closer look we immediately noticed how small the whale was (our best guess would be 10-12 feet) and the behaviour we were seeing was unusual.  The whale would arch quite quickly and do a “terminal dive” but when he would resurface he would almost rest at the surface and bring the entire front part of his head, his rostrum, out of the water to breathe but not continue to dive, just sink back below the surface.  We immediately thought it was odd but also knew it was a young whale and wasn’t sure if he was just being curious.  It wasn’t until we managed to get a closer look and then the behaviour made sense….the whale had line wrapped around its lower jaw and the line extended down, most likely anchored or weighed down on the sea floor, he was entangled and it was very serious.

When we find a marine animal who is in distress or dead we immediately call MARS, the Marine Animal Response Society at 1-866-567-6277 and they have all of the contact information for any help that may be needed, in this case they contacted Mackie Greene with the Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT).  We know Mackie well but it is always best to contact MARS first because they will most likely be able to get in touch with the CWRT before we ever could.  And this is where our part really comes in and when the emotions run high….it’s our time to Stand By

To stand by, to wait for whale rescue to arrive is so very important to the entire operation.  It’s not easy to stand on the boat and watch a young whale struggle to reach the surface to take a breath but without proper training someone could do more harm than good.  So by standing by we keep a close eye on the whale without adding any stress, with our height advantage of the upper deck we could get a clear view of the entanglement and be able to relay that information to the whale rescue team and we also had to ensure we did not lose the young whale in the fog!  I’m not going to lie, the thought crossed all of our minds to jump in that calm water and help that whale, to cut that rope any way we could but we know to leave that to the pros, it would be so easy to do more harm than good even with the best intentions at heart.  So we waited….and watched…and photographed….and Nick even sketched an image incase the CWRT wanted to have a look.

A sketch showing the entanglement of the young minke,  Thank You Nick

A sketch showing the entanglement of the young minke, Thank You Nick

I won’t keep you in suspense much longer, Mackie and his team arrived and they were able to get into position and cut the line and free the young whale in under 10 minutes.  When the line was cut all we saw were quick and strong flukeprints at the surface, a sign that the whale was free and swimming quickly out of the area.  The entire encounter, from finding the whale and calling MARS to the release took less than 2 hours, which is incredibly quick!

I have photos that I want to share from today….

minke whale

minke whale

The following photos show the way the minke would surface, struggling to take a breath

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rostrum

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minke whale struggling to take a breath

minke whale struggling to take a breath

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Little minke

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If you look closely you can see the line on the right hand side of the whales mouth (left side of photo)

rostrum out

rostrum out

The following photos show the line in the mouth, it was wrapped around the lower jaw.  You have to look closely and the line is dark cream in colour

If you look closely you can see the line in the water on the left.  Photo taken from lower deck.

If you look closely you can see the line in the water on the left. Photo taken from lower deck.

You can clearly see the line on the left (the right hand side of the whale).  Photo taken from upper deck

You can clearly see the line on the left (the right hand side of the whale). Photo taken from upper deck

The life is visible here too

The life is visible here too

 

The following 2 photos are on the opposite side of the boat so the lighting changed and you can see the whale very well.  You have to look close to see the line in the left hand side of the whale’s mouth

If you look closely you can see the eye and just below the line coming out the left hand side of the whales mouth

If you look closely you can see the eye and just below the line coming out the left hand side of the whales mouth

The young minke close to the Quoddy Link

The young minke close to the Quoddy Link

I can’t even begin to say thank you enough to our passengers who were more than willing to stay out and stand by that whale!!  You all played just as much of a role in this as we did!  SO THANK YOU!

And Thank You to the Campobello Whale Rescue Team (and IFAW for sponsoring them) and the Marine Animal Response Society for all that you do!!  Thank You isn’t enough…you guys all ROCK!!

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team.  This photo is unedited to give you an idea of the fog

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team. This photo is unedited to give you an idea of the fog

Thank You for taking the time to read more about this disentanglement.  I also did an interview with Shift NB on CBC radio and I will share a link soon,

Cheers,

Danielle and the Quoddy Link crew

A beautiful July day! – July 17, 2015

Good evening everyone, Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine here with sightings update from today.  We saw minke whales on both departures today and we got some great views on each trip.

minke whale

minke whale

minke whale

minke whale

This morning we had 2 very special sightings….

One was the second largest fish in the world, a basking shark.  Note the unique trailing edge of the dorsal fin.  This photo will be sent to the Shark Identification Network on Grand Manan and hopefully we can get a match!

Basking shark

Basking shark

And the second was the most requested bird sighting…the Atlantic puffin!

Atlantic puffin

Atlantic puffin

Atlantic puffin

Atlantic puffin

We also saw seals, porpoise and bald eagles on both trips today.  Thank You to everyone who joined us on the catamaran!

Cheers,

Danielle

First fin whales of 2015!

Good evening everyone, I have some great news, thanks to the keen eyes of Captain Mat we found our first finback whales of the season this morning!!  There were 2 large whales, not together and they were both doing some long dives but no one was complaining.

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First fin whale of 2015!

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Dorsal fin of finback whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

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Finback whale


We tried our hardest to relocate this afternoon on the ebb tide but had no luck.  We did find a minke whale in a popular feeding area affectionately known as the Happy Hunting Ground.

Thanks for checking in today and thank you to everyone who joined us aboard the catamaran,

Cheers,

Danielle

Multiple minkes and our first basking shark sighting of the season – July 13, 2015

Hello all, the minke whale sightings have become more consistent the past few days.  We have done a few searches of the offshore areas on good weather days but no signs of finbacks yet.  I keep in touch daily with our friends on Grand Manan at Whales n Sails to know what their sightings have been like and if there is any word of larger whales in our area.

Here are a few photos of the minkes we saw on July 13

 

minke

minke

minke

minke

We also had our first basking shark sighting of the 2015 season on July 13th!  Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world and the most common shark we see in Fundy (not necessarily the most numerous but they are seen the most often because of their surface behaviour).

basking shark

basking shark

There have been some larger groups of grey seals around, especially at Black Ledge…and if you have been following the blog over the years you may know that I have a huge affection for all phocids but an extra special love of greys.

female grey seal

female grey seal

male grey seal

male grey seal

Male (right) and female (left) grey seal

Male (right) and female (left) grey seal

grey seals

grey seals

Thanks so much for checking in today,

Cheers,

Danielle

Welcome Back Slice – July 11, 2015

Hello everyone!!  We had a wonderful surprise this morning…our first sighting of Slice for the 2015 season!

Our first sighting of Slice for the 2015 season

Our first sighting of Slice for the 2015 season

We had a lovely day on the water all around with 3 minke whales in the morning and 2 minkes in the afternoon.  We also had lots of harbour porpoise and seals as well.  And Whitehorse is still filled with life, the gulls chicks are getting closer to fledging and we saw quite a few razorbills on the Horse today.

Thanks to everyone who joined us aboard the Quoddy Link!

Cheers,

Danielle

Beautiful minke whales – July 10, 2015

Good evening everyone, we had 2 wonderful trips today with one minke whale in the morning and 2 minkes in the afternoon.  I wanted to share some photos from our morning trip as we got some amazing looks at the special surface behaviour of the minke.  A minke will typically bring its entire rostrum out of the water as it surfaces, pushing the water forward and creating a wave.  It’s very unique and not always as visible as it was today.

minke whale surfacing, bringing his entire rostrum out of the water

minke whale surfacing, bringing his entire rostrum out of the water

minke whale

minke whale

The rarely seen blow of a minke whale

The rarely seen blow of a minke whale

minke whale

minke whale

minke

minke

Minke whale surfacing

Minke whale surfacing

minke whale

minke whale

We also saw lots of seals and porpoise, seabirds and eagles (the young eaglets were strengthening their flight muscles today…lots of flapping of their wings).  There was also lots of food in the water, both fish and krill!

Thanks for checking in today!

Cheers,

Danielle

The first 3 weeks of our 2015 season

Good evening everyone, this is Danielle back with Quoddy Link Marine for a 14th season on the Bay of Fundy!  Welcome to our NEW website and our NEW blog!  I hope you enjoy and comments and questions are always welcome.

Well, this season has started off a little slow in the whale department and this has been the trend across the entire Bay of Fundy, everything just seems to be a little late from the harsh winter that the Maritimes experienced.  We have been seeing minke whales and the sightings are becoming more consistent everyday as well as the feed in the water seems to be increasing.  Here are some photos of the minkes we have seen so far this season.

Minke whale - July 9/15

Minke whale – July 9/15

Minke whale and lobster buoy  July 1/15

Minke whale and lobster buoy July 1/15

Minke whale - July 9/15

Minke whale – July 9/15

The seal sightings have been great with large numbers of both harbour and grey seals being sighted on almost every departure.  And the number of harbour porpoise in the area is also increasing daily.

Harbour seals

Harbour seals

Harbour seal

Harbour seal

The life in Whitehorse Island is wonderful as nesting season is in full swing.  Don’t forget to check out Nick’s bird sightings page from the drop down menu above where he talks about everything avian in much more detail.

Herring gull and chicks

Herring gull and chicks

Herring gull chick

Herring gull chick

Bald eagles are a highlight for many of our guests and we are lucky enough to have a nest with 2 eaglets this season we can very easily show our passengers at any time of the tide.

Juvenile bald eagle with herring gull chick in its talons being chased by an adult herring gull

Juvenile bald eagle with herring gull chick in its talons being chased by an adult herring gull

2 eaglets in the nest

2 eaglets in the nest

Thank You so much for checking in and the posts here will be much more regular now that the season is in full swing.

Cheers,

Danielle