Summer Sightings In the Gulf of Maine and in Canadian Waters

On July 5,  a survey of Great South Channel – SCOPEX North & South led to sightings of 14 humpback whales, 3 fin whales, 1 minke whale, 4 basking sharks, 15 ocean sunfish, and 2 loggerhead turtles. No right whales were seen on this survey, or on another the following day.  The aerial team did sight 5 humpbacks, 3 fin whales, 5 minke whales, 20 blue sharks, 15 basking sharks, and 30 ocean sunfish during a two and a half-hour survey July 6 on Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin.

Before the NEFSC aerial survey team headed north on July 23 with the Twin Otter to survey Canadian right whales, the team conducted a survey of Georges Basin and reported sightings of 4 humpbacks, 4 fin whales, 6 minke whales, 1 sperm whale, 706 common dolphins, 89 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and 1 loggerhead turtle.  No right whale were observed during the three and a half-hour flight. The fight ended in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, later that day.

With flights based primarily out of Halifax, Nova Scotia in late July and August, the NEFSC’s aerial team had a busy month. No right whales were sighted during the July 26 survey of the Central Scotian Shelf, while 3 humpbacks, 2 fin whales, 4 minke whales, 257 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and 8 basking sharks were reported.A July 30 survey of the north margin of Lehave Basin reported  sightings of 1 right whale, 6 fin whales, 1 minke whale, 37 pilot whales, 31 basking sharks and 2 leatherback sea turtles.

August sightings:

One right whale, 6 fin whales, 1 minke whale, 37 pilot whales, 31 basking sharks and 2 leatherback turtles were seen in the north margin of Lehave Basin during a four-hour survey on August 1. Two humpback whales, 2 fin whales, 9 minke whales, 16 pilot whales, 38 common dolphins, 24 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 10 harbor porpoise, 10 basking sharks and 4 leatherback turtles were observed during an August 2 survey of Lehave Bank and Channel.

A flight August 3 on the Eastern Scotian Shelf do not result in observation of any right whales, but aerial survey team members did sight 2 humpback whales, 6 fin whales, 1 blue whale, 30 minke whales, 18 pilot whales, 19 common dolphins, 1169 Atlantic white-sid3ed dolphins, 1 harbor porpoise, 10 basking sharks, and 7 leatherback turtles.

No right whales were sighted during the August 6 survey on Lehave Bank and Channel. The team spotted 2 minke whales, 3 pilot whales, 261 common dolphins, 53 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 7 basking sharks and 1 leatherback turtle. A five and a half hour survey August 7 in the basins west of Banc d’Ophelin resulted in the sighting of 24 fin whales, 6 minke whales, 65 harbor porpoise and 4 basking sharks, along with 25 right whales.

Two days later, on August 8, the team saw 5 harbor porpoise and 25 right whales, some of them seen the day before, in an area west of Banc D’Ophelin. On August 10, the team observed 4 minke whales, 148 harbor porpoise and 2 basking sharks in the Shediac Valley, Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Nineteen right whales were also sighted during the four-hour flight.

An August 11 survey on the west side of Cape Breton to St. Paul Island observed 3 pilot whales, 262 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 1 basking shark and 1 leatherback turtle.  No right whales were observed on this flight, or on another survey of the Eastern Scotian Shelf on August 15, during which 2 minke whales, 57 common dolphins and 90 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were sighted.

The absence of right whale sightings continued on August 16 during a more than five-hour survey of Emerald Basin and Channel. One humpback, 6 fin whales, 3 minke whales, 4 sperm whales, 42 pilot whales, 11 Risso’s dolphins, 12 common dolphins, 8 basking sharks and 1 leatherback turtle were reported.

Luck changed during an August 20 flight to the Honey Hole, 30 nautical miles east of the Chaluer Bay entrance, where the aerial team observed 14 right whales, 18 fin whales, 3 minke whales, 29 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 8 harbor porpoise, and 1 basking shark.

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Team

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