Saturday, January 12, 2008

Aerial Survey- 12 January 2008

The aerial survey team was able to find another window of opportunity when low winds on Saturday permitted a survey flight. Three humpback whales and one minke whale were spotted during our initial trackline east of Cape Cod. We nearly completed the entire survey of Cape Cod Bay without spotting any whales inside the bay. In late afternoon we came across an entangled right whale! Unfortunately entanglement in fishing gear is a common problem encountered by right whales, and is the second leading cause of known mortality (the first being ship strike) in this highly endangered species. We immediately contacted the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team who coordinated efforts with our nearby research vessel, the Shearwater. Unfortunately, daylight was fading fast and the disentanglement team members aboard the Shearwater were unable to attach a tracking buoy to the whale before dark. We were later able to match our photographs of this whale to the database of known individuals. The entangled whale is an adult female, known as EGNO 2645. She gave birth to a calf in the Southeast last winter and was also seen in the Bay of Fundy this fall.

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