Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Our First Right Whales of the Season

Kudos to the staff of Marineland Dolphin Adventure for being the first to spot right whales in our area this season. Curator Kevin Roberts called just before 2:00 PM and within 30 minutes we were able, with their help, to confirm three adult/juvenile right whales at the south end of the facility, slowly drifting south. 

Photographs were difficult in the flat gray light cast by the heavily overcast sky and the whales were a bit stingy with lifting their heads above water for identification shots. We did obtain clear photos of one whale with a distinctive white mark on the left side of its rostrum, seen in this photo. The tentative ID is Whale #4092, a female of unknown age that was sighted off Fernandina on two days in mid-December and then not again until today. We saw her from the Air Cam off New Smyrna in February 2010. Since then, she has acquired massive scars on her peduncle and flukes, not evident in our photos from shore.

Following the whales south along the Marineland boardwalk, Kevin called again to report a fourth whale to the north of the others. As this sighting came level with the boardwalk, we counted another two whales, bringing our total to five. Although the clouds hampered visibility somewhat, no one who came out to see this first sighting of the season went away disappointed. Will we see them tomorrow? We know that Thursday's teams will give it their best shot. Stay tuned!