On March 6, we took advantage of fair weather and calm winds to look for North Atlantic right whales south of Martha’s Vineyard. By day’s end we’d seen 5, and the New England Aquarium aerial survey team we are working with spotted another 9. Colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were also working in the area were aboard the WHOI R/V Tioga.
We’re collecting data important for documenting the distribution, movement, and health of these rare animals. We also coordinate with the New England Aquarium team that is photographing whales from the air as part of their survey.
We’re focused on gathering several kinds of information: photographs that are used to identify individual animals, and small samples of skin and feces.
Our sightings of 5 whales, along with 9 more spotted by the aerial survey team were the basis for establishing an 1800 mi2 voluntary speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area-DMA) that will remain in place for at least 2 weeks. Our research is being conducted under federal research permit #17355-01, NMFS/NEFSC.
The R/V Selkie Survey Team