Great Strides in Right Whale Research

Grace watches as they launch the little gray boat over the side of the Delaware II.

After 45 hours of tracking the RATS (Realtime Acoustic Tracking System) buoys, we were ready to retrieve them on May 12th. Around 0700hrs, Grace, Allison, Beth and Clay launched in the Little Gray Boat to work right whales in the area, and Nadine, Sarah, and Amalia went off in the inflatable boat, BooRadley, to pick up the RATS buoys.  They accomplished the pick-ups in a few hours, and Mark and Nadine began tagging efforts.

Allison successfully completes her first biopsy sample.

We found another mother/calf pair. The calf of this pair had not been sampled yet. Allison got her first right whale biopsy sample ever! She nailed it on the first try. We’ve now added two more calf samples to the tally from down south this winter.  These samples will contribute to the ongoing genetic research being done by colleagues in Canada. It’s important to sample the calves when they are still with their mothers.

It was a fairly cold gray day in the Atlantic Ocean, and around midday we were hopeful for a hot lunch. We called the ship, and our chef extraordinaire was going to put something together for us. What service– a quick drive by and we have a box of hot lunches…plates of shrimp no less!

Grace, Beth, and Clay pause for a lunch break on the water.

Back to the whale pursuit.  Seas picked up in the afternoon, but workable still. Getting a bit difficult to follow whales up sea … or a little wet,  I should say. Not too rough to recognize an old whale, #1056, who had never been biopsy sampled! This whale has been known to the catalog for thirty years, and no one had ever sampled it… until we did on Wednesday! It was a great day on the water!

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