Saturday, March 15, 2008

Aerial Survey- 14 March 2008

Christin Khan (left) and Kate Longley (right) relay information about the whale's position to the team aboard the R/V Ibis during a disentanglement attempt Friday.

Aerial view of Cape Cod taken during transit up the coast.

We began our aerial survey at the northern end of Cape Cod Bay and flew several track lines without a right whale in sight, although we did see a fin whale and two minke whales. Then we came upon the aggregation of right whales, clumped closely together off of Wood End in Provincetown. The whales were engaged in a variety of behaviors, but most were fluking up and remaining submerged for long periods of time, behavior indicative of foraging at depth. Among these right whales was “Wart” (also known as EGNO 1140), an adult female we have seen in the bay several times this month entangled in fishing rope. We contacted the PCCS disentanglement team who was able to remove some of the trailing rope to minimize the chances of it getting caught further on her flukes or flippers. After assisting with the disentanglement effort, we returned to the Chatham airport to refuel. Once we arrived back in the bay, we continued to document the right whales in the area, and came upon yet another entangled right whale. Luckily, the disentanglement team was still on the water and they were quickly on the scene. The whale was identified as EGNO 1980, an adult male right whale, and the disentanglement team was able to better assess his health and document his entanglement. There was a noticeable change in the behavior of the right whales in the bay as the afternoon progressed, with more and more whales beginning to skim feed at the surface- quite a sight!

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