2011 04 04- 11 hours on water, whales in 40 ft of water having a sand bath, dolphins, five fluke IDs Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

Despite the small craft warning and rolling ocean swells we set out today for another 11-hour marathon on Sea Slipper. Almost as soon as we were through the reefs at Chubb Heads Camilla spotted two whales. We were in 28 feet of water, they were in 40 feet of water. The whales kept disappearing on us (as they often do) despite the shallow water. Eventually I swam to where they were last seen and found the two of them having a sand bath, rubbing their tummies, their sides, their backs, their heads and chins and even their pectoral fins in the sand. I followed them from sand hole to sand hole as they kept this up and have it all on high defintion video which I will put on YouTube.

2011_04_4_whales_087_edited_2

We had a large pod of North Atlantic bottlenose dolphins bow ride Sea Slipper as we crossed the 4,000 foot deep canyon between Sally Tuckers at the south-west corner of the Bermuda platform and Challenger Bank.

For links to the video footage of the whales in the sandholes, see below:

I have the two fluke IDs of the two whales in the sand hole spa (taken underwater) and apart from that we didn't have a very succesful fluke ID day because of the big swells. When we spotted whales they disappeared into a trough and if they didn't, we did. But as we left towards the evening we managed to get three fluke IDs as we left Challenger Bank.

0565_1_bd_2011_04_05_as 0567_1_bd_2011_04_05_as   

 0569_1_bd_2011_04_04_lt 0570_1_bd_2011_04_04_lt

Judie Clee once again made a match. The fluke above right is our 0570 which she identified as NAHWC#7047. It wasn't an easy match to make when you see the poor quality of the archival photo. This whale was first photographed in Newfoundland in 1991.

 0568_1_bd_2011_04_04_lt 0563_1_bd_2011_03_30_rl

Lynn Thorne took three of the fluke IDs above. You can see the one on the left above, which Lynn took today, was also photographed by Ricard Lee on the 30th of March, above right, a re-sighting here in Bermuda over a period of six days. Thanks to Judie Clee for drawing our attention to the fact. Obviously the whales are hanging around Bermuda for some days, maybe even a week! Judie has matched this fluke to the Allied Whale catalogue as NAHWC#5672 first photographed in 1989, twenty-one years ago.

And here is the link to the video footage of the two whales scratching their backs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6YAtf9b7XA