Lots of Whales Offshore

A May 23 aerial survey of the Great South Channel – SCOPEX South had plenty to see: 21 sei whales, 3 humpback whales, 3 fin whales, 3 minke whales, 2 harbor porpoise, 54 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 10 common dolphins and 5 basking sharks.

The team also observed 23 North Atlantic right whales, three of them feeding and one named “Velcro” entangled, during the more than four-hour flight in the NOAA Twin Otter. Velcro is a male who was first sighted in 1983.

A five-hour flight May 21 in the same area also had a successful day, sighting 8 sei whales, 1 minke whale, 3 fin whales, 51 humpback whales, 13 pilot whales, 3 common dolphins, 4 offshore bottlenose dolphins, and 12 basking sharks.  Twenty right whales were also sighted, including 2 mother/calf pairs and 1 feeding whale.

The day before, on May 20, a six-hour survey in the Twin Otter of SCOPEX and Howell Swell sighted 16 North Atlantic right whales, 7 of them subsurface feeding and 9 surface feeding, including a mom/calf pair. The NEFSC aerial survey team also observed 7 minke whales, 4 fin whales, 20 sei whales, 7 humpback whales, 14 harbor porpoise, 55 basking sharks, and 8 tuna.

Humpbacks won the prize on the May 19 aerial survey of Great South Channel, SCOPEX NORTH, as 147 were sighted during the five-hour and 40 minute flight.  The team also observed 8 fin whales, 1 sei whale, 7 minke whales, 56 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 3 harbor porpoise, and 3 basking sharks.  Eleven North Atlantic right whales were also seen, eight of them feeding in one location. One right whale was found in poor health in another sighting.

A five-hour, 38-minute survey of Howell Swell on May 18 observed 26 right whales, many of them feeding, including a mom and calf pair and a surface active group (SAG). The NEFSC aerial team also sighted 3 humpback whales, 5 fin whales, 4 sei whales, 168 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 7 harbor porpoise, 17 basking sharks, and 1 ocean sunfish.

ON May 14, the aerial team spent five and a half hours in Great South Channel, searching for 40 minutes for an entangled humpback whale but were not able to relocate it.  The team observed 8 right whales, including a mom and calf pair. The mom was  identified as #4094. According to the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog maintained by the New England Aquarium, she was born in 2010 and was last seen in 2014. The aerial team  also observed 84 humpbacks, 7 fin whales, 6 minke whales, 13 pilot whales, 234 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 3 harbor porpoise, and 22 basking sharks.

Check out the interactive North Atlantic Right Whale Sightings Map  to see where the whales are being found and what management measures are in place to protect them in different areas.

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Team

 

 

 

 

 

Whales and dolphins aplenty

Nineteen North Atlantic right whales were sighted during the May 12 aerial survey of Howell Swell. Thirteen of the whales were seen subfeeding and their position relayed to  the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, which is conducting the annual right whale survey and biology cruise in the Gulf of Maine. The group included 1 tagged whale. The other six whales were subfeeding and breaching.  Howell Swell is an undersea feature east of Cape Cod in the Gulf of Maine.

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A right whale feeding, taken May 12 during a survey of Howell Swell. Images collected under MMPA research permit #17355. Photo credit: Tim Cole, NEFSC/NOAA

The three and a half-hour survey flight also observed 2 sei whales, 132 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 35 harbor porpoise, and 16 basking sharks.

May 11 was another beautiful spring day. The NOAA Twin Otter with the NEFSC aerial survey team aboard flew in Howell Swell again and sighted 14 right whales, 13 of them subsurface feeding. Their positions were related to the Gordon Gunter.

During the more than five-hour survey the team also observed 3 sei whales, 137 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 25 harbor porpoise and 11 basking sharks.

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A view of part of the Cape Cod National Seashore near the tip of Cape Cod from the Twin Otter on May 10. Photo by Christin Khan, NEFSC/NOAA.

Beautiful spring weather provided excellent flying conditions for the May 10 survey of Jeffreys Ledge and Wildcat Knoll in the Gulf of Maine. The more than five-hour flight observed 21 humpback whales, 13 fin whales, 17 sei whales, 3 minke whales, 2,782 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, 2 harbor porpoise and 1 basking shark.  No North Atlantic right whales were observed.

 

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group

 

Humpbacks and Seis Abound

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)’s  May 1 aerial survey of Franklin Basin resulted in sightings of 1 fin whale, 3 sei whales, 78 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and 1 harbor porpoise. Two North Atlantic right whales were also observed, one of them feeding with 30 sei whales.  The more than five-hour flight in the NOAA Twin Otter circled over the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, which departed Woods Hole April 29 for a right whale research study,  and the sei whale aggregation.

Lots of whales were sighted on April 30 during two surveys in the Great South Channel-SCOPEX N0rth. Fifty-seven humpback whales, 1 fin whale, 53 sei whales, 1 minke whale, and 46 Atlantic white-sided dolphins  were observed during the four and a half-hour Great South Channel-SCOPEX North survey. Three right whales were also observed, 2 sub-surface feeding and 1 breaching.

A one-hour directed survey within great South Channel observed 3 humpback whales, 1 fin whale and 1 right whale.

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group

 

 

It’s All About Location

One harbor porpoise and no right whales were sighted during a three-hour survey  of Rhode Island Sound on April 28.

Just a day before, on April 27,  65 humpback whales, 7 fin whales, 5 sei whales, 2 minke whales, 1 Atlantic white-sided dolphin, 13 harbor porpoises and 8 basking sharks were observed on Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin. Three right whales were also sighted during the nearly six-hour survey.

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group

 

 

Humpback heaven

A six-hour aerial survey of Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin on April 25 resulted in lots of whale sightings.  members of the NEFSC’s aerial survey team aboard the NOAA Twin Otter observed 6 fin whales, 56 humpback whales, 11 sei whales, 2 minke whales, and 2 harbor porpoise. The team also sighted 7 North Atlantic right whales; two of them were feeding.

 

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group

Whales everywhere!

April 22 was a great day for the NEFSC’s aerial survey group as their nearly six-hour survey of Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin resulted in lots of sightings. Five fin whales, 37 humpbacks, 1 minke whale, 6 harbor porpoise, 22 Atlantic white-sided dolphins and 1 basking shark were observed from the Twin Otter, along with 29 North Atlantic right whales.  A mom and calf pair were among the animals.  Some of the right whales were feeding, while others joined sei whales to feed.

Yesterday, April 21, the aerial group sighted 9 fin whales, 39 humpbacks, 7 minke whales, 16 sei whales, 1514 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and 8 harbor porpoise on Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin.  In addition, the team also sighted 19 right whales,  a number of them during transit to photo identify several whales near Nahant, and most of those were feeding.

Earlier in the week, on April 19, the aerial team flew nearly five hours during a survey of Great South Channel -SCOPEX South & North.  Five fin whales, 4 humpbacks, and 1 right whale were sighted.

On April 18, no right whales were sighted and only 1 harbor porpoise and 1 bottlenose dolphin were sighted during a three-hour survey over Rhode Island Sound.

 

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group

It’s That Time of Year in the Gulf of Maine

More North Atlantic right whales have been sighted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)’s aerial survey group in recent days. On April 9, four right whales were seen feeding in surface and subsurface waters during an aerial survey of Stellwagen Bank and Wilkinson Basin in the Gulf of Maine.  In addition, 11 fin whales, 17 humpback whales, 4 minke whales, and 125 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were also sighted during the five-hour flight.

Nine North Atlantic right whales were observed on April 17, with excellent conditions during a neatly six-hour aerial survey of Cashes Ledge in the NOAA Twin Otter. The right whales were sighted in transit, feeding.  Also sighted during the survey were 5 humpback whales, 4 fin whales, 15 sei whales, 3 minke whales, 29 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and 30 harbor porpoise.

The NEFSC Aerial Survey Group