Right Whale Sighting and Acoustic Equipment Recovered

right whale NEFSC

Right whale as seen by the marine mammal visual team. Photo credit: Todd Pusser, NOAA/NEFSC

July 10 at 0645 hrs, 39.96N, 71.33W surveying near the top of Block Canyon: Blow, Blow Balaena 500 meters off the bow. YES we had right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) around the ship; we immediately slowed our speed and went off effort to obtain a count and photographs. Scientists and crew were very excited to see these magnificent whales in our offshore survey. Following that action, we resumed searching along our survey lines. Other species sighted throughout the day included: fin whales and common, bottlenose, and Risso’s dolphins. Wind and swells curtailed our work in the late afternoon.

Following the end of visual operations, we transited over to a nearby site where one of our acoustic recorders (MARUs) had been deployed earlier this summer, near Alvin canyon. The MARU was deployed at 350m, and we were hoping that it would still be there despite all of the fishing activity in this region. We were quite relieved to hear it respond from the bottom when we tried to communicate with it, and we were able to successfully recover it, thanks to the help of the ship’s crew and all of the observers. Gordon enthusiastically helped out with the VHF tracking equipment and was able to pick up the buoy’s signal as soon as it surfaced. Thanks to Pete for providing us with the gear!

MARU

Staff on deck helps retrieve an acoustic recorder that had been previously deployed.

On July 11, the winds and seas were too high for visual operations, but we ran along the survey lines at reduced speed ~ 8kts while towing the hydrophone array. So far we’ve tracked a couple of sperm whales, and we’re waiting to hear what else awaits us! The seabird observers are braving the conditions to monitor their 300m strip transect, with only storm petrels (Wilson’s and Leech’s) for company up until now.

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