Sunday, January 2, 2011

End of Year Right Whale Sightings

The year ended on a high note with right whale sightings on the 28th, 29th and 30th of December, including two mother/calf pairs we have not seen yet this season. On 28 December, a resident of Windjammer Condo in Crescent Beach called the whale hotline at 11:30 a.m. to report a right whale in front of her condo to Julie of Marine Resources Council. Julie called us and we responded, sighting at least two whales in the distance to the south of Crescent Beach Park. The whales remained mostly stationary, refusing to come within photographic distance to a public walkover, a challenge along this stretch of coastline. We finally gained access to a private walkover and discovered a female

tentatively identified as #1604 with a calf. She is an older female, 25 years or more, and has had at least one calf before this one. The Marineland Project documented her in our area on 25 January and 28 February in 2005.

29 and 30 December were stellar weather days and we took advantage of them by flying two surveys in the AirCam on the 29th, our typical coastal survey and an afternoon flight three miles offshore. On this flight, we sighted a single adult/juvenile right on the survey line east of New Smyrna Beach. We do not have an ID for this whale yet.

On 30 December we flew a standard coastal survey and spotted a female tentatively identified as #3010 and her calf just north of the St. Augustine Inlet, our turnaround spot. This was the first time we have documented this female and it was the first sighting of her this season with a new calf. She is at least 11 years old and this is at least her second calf.

Eleven mothers and calves have been provisionally identified in the Southeast US and we have seen three of them before the start of our regular survey season. This certainly bodes well for another active year!