Hit and Miss on the Water

Day 14 – July 10: We’re well offshore and crossing over the Gulf Stream in calm seas. We began our westernmost offshore line shortly after sunrise. About three hours later we got a surprise call from a US Gov plane informing us that we couldn’t go any further south or east of where we were for the next four hours. Given that our current heading was southeast and our next trackline was directly east, we pretty much didn’t have any other options. So, we hauled in the array and camped out. Luckily, about an hour later we got the all clear to carry on. Jen and I were quite disappointed because in the meantime we were really making progress on learning and choreographing a routine to the NOAA Corps song: “Forward with NOAA.” Perhaps it’s fortunate for all that our efforts were cut short.

Our sightings were sparse, starting the day with a few mixed groups of Atlantic striped and spotted dolphins, but then our survey area turned into a desert. Thankfully we found an oasis of life when we encountered a flock of about 100 shearwaters (plus 1 skua and 1 jaeger) above a large school of yellowfin tuna, but this reprieve was short-lived. We did feel somewhat like the US Women’s World Cup soccer team, however, when we pulled out a group of Gervais beaked whales 5 minutes before going off effort for the day.

Most pictures from the day are still on people’s cameras, but here are some great shots of the pilot whales we had in the fog on the 5th.

long-finned pilot whale

Long-finned pilot whale. (Photo credit: Danielle Cholewiak/NOAA NEFSC)

Notice distinct anchor-shaped ventral marking on this long-finned pilot whale. (Photo credit: Danielle Cholewiak/NOAA NEFSC.)

long-finned pilot whale and calf

Long-finned pilot whale and calf seen from the Henry B. Bigelow. (Photo credit: Danielle Cholewiak/NOAA NEFSC.)

Note the ventral fetal fold marks on calf of long-finned pilot whale. (Photo credit: Danielle Cholewiak/NOAA NEFSC.)

Allison Henry, chief scientist

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