Another Update from the Aerial Surveys in the Gulf

Pete Duley, Carrie Horton, Kevin Barry on board the NOAA57 for an aerial survey of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. (Photo by Jen Gatzke/NOAA.)

On our fourth day, Agent Sims (a.k.a Tanner Sims) and the scientists explored the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium to learn about their efforts in the Oil Spill Response. Those interested in volunteering in the Mobile Alabama area may contact more information. Volunteers will need hazardous material training if they are to be handling oiled wildlife or materials. We do not have such training, so we did not clean any birds yesterday, but we did pick up some delicious peaches at the farm stand which we all enjoyed on NOAA57 today.

Today’s surveys led us into the blue water of the eastern gulf where Bryde’s whales might be expected – because neither Jen nor Pete had ever seen this species, we were very excited. We started along the Alabama and Florida border and moved east on 75 mile north/south lines. Sightings included a pod of 100 Risso’s dolphins (and several smaller groups), 34 Atlantic spotted dolphins, many groups of bottlenose dolphins, several loggerhead sea turtles and a Kemps ridley sea turtle, Bull sharks, eagle rays, Hammerhead sharks, a billfish. Kevin saw two large whales he suspected may have been sperm whales, but we did not break for them.

~Submitted by Jen Gatzke and Pete Duley

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