Monday, March 17, 2014

Rainy Day Whales

Pouring rain…the perfect weather to work on data and straighten up the files. We call it an “indoor sports day.” We were well into it when, at 12:30, Julie Albert from the Marine Resources Council called with a Hotline report from Judith Terman of two whales, one small, from The Towers in Ponce Inlet. We were amazed! How could anyone see whales in this rain? Before setting out in this awful weather, Jim asked Julie to see if anyone could confirm that they were right whales. She called Michael Brothers of the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet and, heading to the beach, he reported seeing a mother and calf right whale, swimming north.

Jim and Joy arrived in the area around 2:30 PM and Julie provided contact information for one of the spotters, Sheila Lipp, who called in a recent report. In a stroke of very good luck, the whales

were still visible to the north from Sheila’s 7th floor condo, which came with a covered balcony overlooking the ocean. We were able to photograph the whales from this sheltered location. Suspecting this was Catalog #3546 and calf, we shared the photos with our Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission colleagues, who agreed.

After thanking Sheila, her husband, and friends for opening their home to us, we drove a little north to see if we could catch the whales straight out from the beach. Finding a walkover with a shelter, we searched the ocean, but mist descended quickly and within minutes it began to rain harder. With almost no visibility and no whales in sight, we secured the watch and headed home.

Since Catalog #3546’s calf was born somewhat later in the season, she may be lingering in the area to allow the calf more time to mature before beginning their migration north. Thus, if you happen to be along the coast in the next several days, take your binoculars with you and watch the ocean!