Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Returning Right Whale Mothers

Two right whale mothers that we saw earlier in the season were spotted over the last couple of days in the southern section of Volusia County. On Saturday, 22 January, a call to the MRC Whale Hotline from the resident of a beach condo in Daytona Beach Shores gave us the opportunity to document provisionally identified mother #1604 and her calf. The two were nearly a mile offshore in a Sea State 5 (LOTS of white caps) when the response team of Becki, Joy and Sheila got the camera in place, but the photos were just clear enough to make out her callosity pattern and a distinctive white dot near her left blowhole. Check this out in the lowest right hand photo on the Right Whale Catalog website (www.rwcatalog.neaq.org). We saw this pair on 28 December in Crescent Beach and on 11 January in Ormond Beach.

Yesterday, 24 January, the AirCam crew of Joy and Becki discovered a mother and calf two miles south of Ponce Inlet. For several minutes, only the calf appeared at the surface, intermittently, swimming north, causing Joy and Becki to wonder if they were observing a very small yearling or an orphaned calf. Then, mom rose into view through the turbid water. She has been provisionally identified as #3430, age seven years with her first calf. We photographed her from the AirCam on 4 January in Vilano Beach