2011 03 28- 6 hours in rough conditions, 20+ whales, 2 IDs and a dorsal fin match and resightings Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


Despite the wavey conditions we set out on Ocean Potion try and find a break between weather fronts. Exactly where we expected to find the whales, we found several (6 or 7) swimming together. What were they doing? Not a rowdy group as we find in the Caribbean. Were they cooperatively feeding?  Not likely as they seemed to be diving on upwellings carrying plankton rather than fish. Was this a group beginning to form an association before heading further northwards? Besides the group of seven, we found several pairs together, some threesomes, a couple of singles and what seemed like a calf with a mother and escort. Unfortunately the waves were so big it made it difficult to obtain fluke IDs, either our boat or the whale disappearing consistently into the troughs between crests.

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We had a pair of whales each breach several times in succession and then lie on their backs whacking their pectoral fins on the water, I assume to signal to other nearby whales their relative position. The whale performing a chin slap above partially filled his mouth to make more of an impact on the surface when he hit the water. The above fluke was only one of two we obtained today after six hours on the water

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Because I was so desperate to get some matches from today despite the lack of fluke IDs, I sent this dorsal fin to Dr Jooke Robbins and she has identified it as a male Gulf of Maine humpback whale named Barb (HWC#0667).  Barb was born in 1987 and the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies has seen him in most years since then. Judie Clee managed to match our fluke to the fluke above taken by Chris Burville on 15th April 2006. Not only that, she then matched it to NAHWC#8193 first photographed in the Gulf of Maine in 1998. It's fantastic having these real time matches to whales that we see here.

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