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.