Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Large Group and a New Mom

We are approaching the busy point in our typical season and the whales are turning up with more frequency. On Sunday, 16 January, the AirCam crew of Joy and Sheila confirmed a group of 13 adult/juveniles in Ormond/Daytona Beach. The Florida aerial survey team had documented the same number the day before in a similar location and it appears that they didn’t go far overnight. The whales were spread out in groups of one to four animals from Grenada Blvd in Ormond Beach to a half mile south of Main St. Pier in Daytona Beach. While most of the identifications will come later, there was one outstanding individual who we were able to recognize easily from the air, #3530, named Ruffian. Several years ago, Ruffian was photographed with serious wounds on his back and tail stock, possibly the result of a severe entanglement that he managed to resolve on his own. Thankfully, he survived, but carries the distinctive reminder of that incident. Ruffian was photographed in nearly the same area almost a year ago by Joy and George in the AirCam.

On Tuesday, 18 January, Sector 2 reported a sighting from Malacompra Rd in Palm Coast, about a mile or more offshore (good catch!). The low dense cloud cover lifted just long enough for Joy and Becki to bring the AirCam on site and document a mother/calf pair. The mother has been provisionally identified as #3270, Pico, with her first calf. This is the first time that we have seen her this season.

Sector 3 had a sighting from Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, also a mile or so offshore (more great eyes!). Sheila responded, but the single right whale was too far out for photos and the threatening weather prevented the AirCam from coming down to photograph.