Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where are the Whales?

The short answer to the above question is, “not where we anticipated they would be, based on past seasons.” Our most recent sightings, a humpback whale on 18 February and female right whale #3430 and calf on 19 February, were both offshore, on the 3-mile trackline now flown regularly by the AirCam. Shoreline sightings are remarkably non-existent. This reminds us of the 2008 season, when the right whales departed our area early, and our last sighting of the season occurred on 12 Feb. However, that season was the warmest of our eleven seasons and the current season has been one of our coldest. Last season, another very cold one, the whales seemed to linger in our area, not completely departing until well into March. We still have much to learn about what influences the whales’ movements. They may yet reappear, with water temperatures warming over the last several days.

 On a very positive note, the FWC aerial survey team spotted a new mother and calf on 13 February. They have been provisionally identified as #1245, Slalom, a 29-year-old female with her fifth calf. This brings the total for the season to 16, a very respectable number.