Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Delaware II - Day Sixteen

Today we tried valiantly to communicate with the remaining acoustic buoy and retrieve it, but were unsuccessful. Unfortunately this valuable equipment is sometimes accidentally trawled by fishing vessels, and that may be the case with this buoy. We also spent some time out on the small boat recording minke whales with the hydrophone, and are now steaming towards port in Woods Hole...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Delaware II - Day Fifteen

Today was a busy and productive day! We successfully retrieved 9 out of 10 of the acoustic pop up buoys with the small boat. We also got some hydrophone recordings and photo ID on several minke whales! Minke whales surface so quickly, that I was surprised to get even the two good photos that I did!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Delaware II - Day Fourteen

We awoke to the sound of the fog bell again, but it did eventually clear up and we were able to collect sighting data for much of the afternoon and run the CTD stations.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Delaware II - Day Thirteen

The morning began with a few promising sightings of minke whales, but the fog soon closed in and made it impossible to see for much of the day. By late afternoon we were able to get back out for a little while again.

Stellwagen Bank by Nathalie Ward

For those of you who wish to learn more about Stellwagen Bank, this is a fantastic all around introduction including the geology, historical whaling, fishing, and the many species that can be found in the area...

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble

"A fascinating look at the truly amazing variety of life in the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary off the coast of New England. In addition to being prime fishing territory, Stellwagen draws millions of visitors each year who come to observe whales and sea birds. Stunning underwater photography and superb artwork complete this important and informative book."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Delaware II - Day Twelve

Today was a busy day of collecting sighting data, and a refreshing change from yesterday's fog! We saw many humpbacks, a few fin whales, and a few minke whales!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Delaware II - Day Eleven

No work today... the winds are blowing hard and we are hunkered down in Provincetown Harbor to wait it out. The Coast Guard assisted us in a crew change since it was too choppy to take out the small zodiac as planned.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Delaware II - Day Ten

We had high hopes for a thorough survey of Stellwagen Bank coordinated between the Delaware II, the Auk, and the NOAA Twin Otter aircraft... but alas, Mother Nature had other plans for us (fog, rain, and wind). The NOAA Twin Otter did takeoff and poke around, but reported back that there was fog everywhere.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Delaware II - Day Nine

At long last we received our crane part (via special delivery from the R/V Auk) and were able to fix the crane and deploy the small boat! We even found a some minke and fin whales in the afternoon and were able to get some good hydrophone recordings!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Delaware II - Day Eight

Too foggy, rainy, and windy to get much accomplished today (although we did have a good follow on a few minke whales in the morning before the weather worsened).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Delaware II - Day Seven

Another successful day of collecting data on the distribution of large whales in the vicinity of the acoustic array deployed in Stellwagen bank. We even had the opportunity to spend some time with a group of minke whales, which is our target species.

We stopped at several CTD stations (see photo of deployment above). CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth and provides some valuable environmental data to accompany our visual and acoustic data.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Delaware II - Day Six

Another glorious day of blue skies, fair winds, successful buoy deployment and retrieval, and many whale sightings!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Delaware II - Day Five

Photo by C. Khan collected under NOAA/NMFS/NEFSC permit.

Today was another fabulous day out on Stellwagen Bank! We expected fog, rain, and rough seas, but it turned out to be pretty nice most of the day and we were able to get a lot of work done.

We retrieved the seven pop-up buoys that had been deployed to calibrate the array. An acoustic signal is played to the buoy which triggers a cable to burn, thereby freeing the buoy to "pop up" to the surface where it can be grappled and retrieved.

We collected a lot of data on humpback and fin whale positions before the winds finally kicked up enough to be a problem. There was a lot of breaching activity today, and towards the end of the day, I finally had my camera at the right moment...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Delaware II - Day Four

We awoke this morning to the sound of the fog bell, but before long it burned off and we had a very successful day of sighting and tracking whales! Minke whales only come to the surface briefly and can be very hard to spot, but despite these challenges, we managed to follow the movements of several individuals.

For those of you who are not familiar with Stellwagen Bank, I have included a map above (click on the map to enlarge). The topography of the bank causes a lot of upwelling of nutrients making this area extremely productive with a wide variety of marine life. For more information about Stellwagen Bank, visit the sanctuary homepage at:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Delaware II - Day Three

All the acoustic pop-up buoys in the array have been deployed and are now continuously recording underwater sounds. We spent the day documenting the distribution of marine mammals along our survey transects in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Our target species are minke, fin, and sei whales but it was not until evening that we spotted two fin whales from the top deck and were able to follow them for a little while. We hope to correlate our visual sightings with the acoustic detections recorded on the buoys to gain a better understanding of the vocal repertoire of these species.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Delaware II - Day Two

We've spent the entire day deploying the acoustic pop-up buoys, and they are just about all in the water!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Delaware II - Day One

After a delayed departure, we set out on Tuesday July 14th under perfect conditions. Sunset found us out on Stellwagen Bank watching humpbacks in the distance...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


After nearly two weeks of being fogged in, we decided to poke our noses out yesterday and see if we could get part of an aerial survey done. We confirmed that there really truly is fog everywhere...

Images collected under NOAA/NMFS/NEFSC permit no. 775-1875