January 11, 2015
Today Olga Shpak flew her first flight as a NARW observer! The weather was clear in the morning with clouds accumulating during the day. In general, conditions were pretty good for searching whales; most of time the sea state on Beaufort scale was 2 or 3. We covered the Cape Cod Bay and adjacent area, flying the Bay in North to South direction. We encountered 2 fin whales around High Head, 3 more near Race Point, and 1 fin whale in the central part of the Bay.
Flying deeper into the Bay, we encountered a pair of SAGing* right whales, one of which, who seemed to be a subadult individual, was rolling and swimming belly-up. The second group of right whales consisted of 3 individuals, who were, probably, feeding subsurface – they dove for prolonged periods of time and when surfaced maintained an echelon position. All individuals were photographed to be matched back in the lab so that we can know who was here. Altogether a great start to the official 2015 official season!
* SAG = Surface Active Group
January 17, 2015: Unfortunately todays flight did not include any right whale sightings; it was, however, Brigid McKenna’s first flight with the aerial team! The survey covered Cape Cod Bay from a south to north direction. Visibility was great though a bit glare-y, but though the weather forecast predicted that the wind would calm down by late morning, it didn’t drop until later in the afternoon. The surface chop in the Bay made sighting conditions less than ideal, and areas where right whales were seen the previous week were particularly choppy. It was not an uneventful flight though; 5 fin whales and 1 minke whale were sighted in the northern portion of the bay, around Race Point.
All track lines were completed and pilot Trevor Laue landed the Skymaster smoothly.
January 21, 2015: What a beautiful day to survey – clear skies and calm seas at last! We departed Chatham airport and conducted our eastern outer shore surveys from a north to south direction in hopes of seeing some right whales heading toward or hanging around the entrance to Cape Cod Bay but regrettably none were seen.
More than 80 unidentified dolphins were spotted (species tbd), plus 6 common dolphins and a couple of seals. Two unidentified whales were also sighted. The habitat research crew who were working in the Bay aboard the RV Shearwater saw one right whale during their survey, and another survey team encountered more than 6 near Nantucket.