Saturday, February 20, 2010

Humpbacks Depart and Rights Return

With the winds finally abating enough for the AirCam to fly, we had hoped to photograph some of the humpback whales that frequented our coast all week, but they have vanished. No sightings were reported on Friday or Saturday anywhere and the AirCam crew saw none on either day, despite flights down to Canaveral Seashore on Friday and Cape Canaveral on Saturday.

Happily, the right whales made a number of appearances throughout our area. Today, Saturday, just before 8:30 am, Mobile Team 1 called in a sighting from St. Augustine Pier. The sighting had an unexpected aspect and reminds us about a part of our work, documenting human impacts. One of the ten individuals had two sets of propeller scars across its back as seen in the photo. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission team identified the whale as #3745, a three-year-old male, who received these scars sometime in the last year from an unknown vessel impact.

Some familiar whales were sighted by shore teams and the AirCam. Female #3123 and her calf swam by Flagler Beach Pier on Friday, allowing our land camera to capture this great close-up of the two. They also appeared further south today, along with two other mother-calf pairs, #3157 (about a mile north of Matanzas Inlet) and #2430 (5 miles north of the shuttle launch pads in Cape Canaveral). This indicates that these pairs are lingering in our area.

On another note, we often see dolphins with the whales. This is an image of a single individual with a dolphin escort photographed by the AirCam crew east of Canaveral Seashore.