Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Right Whale Sets a Rapid Pace South

Our brand new Sector 5 south survey team claims the honor of being first to sight a right whale this season. The single adult/juvenile sighted late yesterday afternoon was spotted by the team this morning from Van Avenue Park in South Daytona Beach. As we saw yesterday, the whale surfaced infrequently and was swimming south at a rapid pace. It was a great catch on the team’s part, particularly since the whale headed further offshore to avoid the Ponce Inlet jetty.

An observant opportunistic spotter also called the MRC’s Right Whale Hotline, giving the response team reports from two sources. The AirCam arrived around 11:30 am and had to fly several search patterns before spotting the whale. It submerged for 14 minutes before surfacing again long enough for identification photos. We are still working on a tentative ID for this whale.

Between yesterday afternoon and today, this lone right whale covered 47 nmi in 19 hours, an average speed of 2.5 knots. The fastest whale we have documented in our study area was another single on 13 February 2007, swimming at 2.9 knots.