Monday, December 20, 2010

Right Whale Mother and Calf Tour Our Coast

The mother and calf spotted by the FWCC aerial survey team on 16 Dec (Thursday) near the St. Augustine Inlet and reported at the St. Augustine Pier on Friday evening through the MRC Right whale hotline were very tentatively identified as right whale #2413 and calf. The pair made their way south over the weekend. The MRC hotline reported a whale on Saturday morning, just north of Marineland, headed south and we picked them up just south of Marineland. From a 6th floor perch at Surf Club we photographed them to confirm it was #2413 again. We followed them as they continued south, then, late in the afternoon, between 16th Road and Jungle Hut Road, they turned north for a short while and then headed southeast out of sight as the sun set.

Yesterday, 19 Dec., one of our Sector 4 surveyors spotted them around 1:00 pm from his condo in Ormond Beach. This time they were headed north. We lucked out as the pair hung out in front of another surveyor’s condo, also in Ormond Beach, giving us a great view from the 17th floor. After several hours of circling in the same general area, mother and calf headed north and then out to sea as daylight faded.

If the ID is confirmed, Right whale #2413 has visited our section of coastline twice before, in February 2003 and February 2005. In 2005, we sighted her with a calf.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 Dec., is forecasted to have light winds and calm seas. We are planning an AirCam survey and hope to see this pair again. A total of three mother/calf pairs have been documented in the Southeast US this season. Keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Whales Are Here!

The first confirmed right whale sighting in our area was made Wednesday, 15 Dec. by the AirCam crew! Joy and Becki braved the cold weather for the first Marineland Project aerial survey of the season and discovered a single right whale about three miles east of Ormond-By-The-Sea, swimming steadily south, escorted by a handful of bottlenose dolphins. The whale’s identity is unknown at the moment and we see no resemblance to photos of right whales that could potentially give birth this season. Given the cold temperatures and windy weather, it quite likely that whales are moving into our area without being detected further north. A mother and calf were spotted near the St. Augustine Inlet yesterday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) aerial survey team and Julie Albert of Marine Resources Council received a report of a mother and calf near the St. Augustine Pier around 5:30 pm today, 17 Dec., headed south, too late in the day for us to respond. So, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to dust off those binoculars and turn your eyes toward the ocean. There’s no telling where the whales will appear!

New Information on the Web

Several good resources have just been posted on the web.

Marine Resources Council’s latest Right Whale Volunteer Newsletter can be seen at the following link:

The December 2010 issue of Right Whale News has been posted at Click on Right Whale News, and "Current Issue." The issue reports the population estimate, changes in science and management for North Atlantic right whales, and a report on Whale Fest 2010.

The 2009 – 2010 Marineland Right Whale Project season report is available at Click on “Right Whale Report ‘10”