Mar 30th 08 Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

 

Photos above of deadly balloons blown fifteen miles offshore. If we hadn't brought these balloons on board they no doubt would have been eaten by turtles or other marine life. The second photo is of the streaks of foam we saw on the surface sometimes forming a line several hundred yards long fifteen miles offshore on the southern edge of Challenger Banks. We also noticed areas of eddies and upwellings and strong currents.

And here is the youtube link to the underwater video footage taken today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwyu72ILwTY

Set out from Hamilton Dinghy Club at 9.30 am on John Burville's boat. On board are Chris Burville and Lisa from RG Magazine. I had already received a call from Dianne Martin at 8.00 am with two whales sighted off the breakers at Marley Beach. I immediately drove there and saw the two whales about a mile and a half from shore moving in an easterly direction. At 9.15 I received another call from Brent at Surfside with two whales offshore, probably the same two. We picked up Bob Steinhoff at Robinsons and headed out to Sally Tuckers. At 10.30 I make a call on the commercial channel 8 asking for boats to report whale sightings gave two immediate responses. One from Argus, 25 miles out, with whales putting on a display there and another from the SE edge of Challenger with whales there. At 11.28 on the SE edge of Challenger, some fifteen miles offshore Bermuda, we see two spouts blow half a dozen times and then a fluke dive in 180 feet of water. At 11.42 we see blows again. In another direction we see a whale pec slapping. 11.46 a fluke dive and then at 11.58 a blow before a fluke dive at 12.00. We move to the centre of Challenger at 160 feet of water. At 12.12 two of us spot what looks like a dolphin but we don't see it again. To our south we see a whale breach at the same time and head back to where we were. 12.25 a blow. 12.37 another blow as the whale moves along the southern edge of Challenger Banks. 12.39 tail slap and then a fluke dive. 12.52 blows from two whales followed by a fluke dive. The whales seem to be feeding with repeated patterns of diving for twelve minutes at a time as they move back and forwards along the southern edge of Challenger Banks. There are obvious streaks of foam and bubbles created by strong upwelling currents in exactly the location where the whales are diving. We move towards the east central side of Challenger and see blows at 13.25. This whale also seems to be consistently diving and we are about to move off when I see a marlin swim fast towards us just to the side of the boat about six feet down. John reports the depth gauge is messed up with probable interference from small fish below us. Are the whales and marlin feeding on the same school of fish below us? A call from Michael Heslop on South East Breaker where he has a whale and nine boats. We pick up a bunch of coloured balloons which would have been swallowed by turtles. We are on Sally Tuckers at 14.40 when a whale breaches just 50 yards to our side in 60 feet of water. At 14.42 we see a fluke dive and then again at 14.52. Again at 15.10. We lose the whale somehow. To the far north I see a whale's pecs slapping. Call from Patrick Singleton that he has a whale in sight off Church Bay. I call at 15.20 Judy Clee and Roland Lines who are somewhere on South Shore that there is a whale off Church Bay. She has two whales that they have spotted south east of South West Breaker and off Church Bay. Probably the same but they have lost them, as has Michael Heslop. At 15.55 Patrick Singleton phones from shore and tells us there is a whale fifty yards in front of us. With his help we spot the white flukes underwater. 16.00 Judie Clee and Roland Line and then Michael Heslop approach. The whale disappears and Judy and Roland and our boat call it a day. Frustrating day with perfect conditions but either the whales were feeding and uninterested in us, or they easily lost us, even in shallow water. The most interesting part of the day was seeing the whale and the marlin together with what seemed to be a large school of fish. Maybe the whales are picking up more than just a snack of krill and copepods. Maybe they are feeding on schools of fish.

 
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