Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stealth Whales

The right whales are heading north, bound for their summer feeding grounds in Cape Cod, the Gulf of Maine, and Canada. Our last photographed sighting (female #1620 and her fifth calf) was on 8 March, south of Hammock Dunes. The last sighting (verified but not photographed) in our area was 13 March in Daytona Beach. But, we have had calls most every day since. We have responded from land and air. Our ability to obtain verifications has been between poor and dismal. Such was the case only yesterday, when a whale was reported just south of Flagler Pier by one of our long-time survey volunteers. The AirCam crew had one brief (should we say extremely brief) glimpse, and despite searching for nearly an hour, never saw it again (the figure shows our search pattern; 243 is the location of the brief sighting--how could we POSSIBLY miss it??). These are almost certainly humpbacks. We now call them "stealth whales."