Friday, May 18: It was a magnificent day out at sea. We had our first right whale sighting at 11:30, launched the small boat, and did not return until 5:30. The two-meter (about 7 feet) high swells made it a significant feat getting in and out of the small boat, but once it departed from the Delaware II , the water was like glass almost the entire time. After following five right whales, we seemed to have found ourselves in the middle of an excellent feeding site. We suddenly were surrounded by a dozen feeding sei whales, skim feeding in every direction. There were several right whales skim-feeding with all the seis, and on the outskirts were a few basking sharks. All in all we photographed 11 right whales, and biopsied one sei whale.
Saturday, May 19: Rough morning seas this Saturday did not look promising, but after having a known mom and calf come along side the boat, and a few other individuals after, we launched the small boat and found ourselves in yet another amazing feeding ground, with sei whales, right whales, and basking sharks in every direction. There was a group of 5 right whales echelon feeding, with sei whales and basking sharks all in the same circle. And for the most exciting news: we believe we found a new calf, and are awaiting for ID confirmation from the New England Aquarium, which maintains the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog!
Sunday, May 20: Another beautiful day brought us to our most successful day yet. We came across at least 30 different right whales today, and managed to get a biopsy from one of our “wanted” lists. There were many whales feeding in groups today, once again mixing with sei whales. The small boat was launched by 8:30 in the morning and not brought in until 6 PM. We’re heading back towards Provincetown before lunch today to anchor for some bad weather heading our way on Tuesday, but should be back in the right whale rich waters come Wednesday.
NEFSC’s Protected Species Branch