December 2012

December 7, 2012: Last December we received many reports of right whales in Cape Cod Bay. In an effort to understand if this was a coincidence, or something more indicative of a pattern we should expect to see in years to come, we set aside some flight hours for the 2013 season to be used in December. For our first flight we took off from Chatham airport heading in a south to north direction. This flight proved to be rather boring; nothing was spotted until we were off of Race Point in Provincetown. We saw a distant blow at this point, but the whale and the sea state were not cooperating and after circling the area for quite a while we got back on track, unable to relocate the animal. It felt good to get back in the plane and work through all of the small problems that inevitably come with the beginning of a new season. Hopefully, we will be seeing some whales in the near future.

December 13, 2012: For our second flight of the 2013 season, the aerial survey team took off from Chatham airport, and surveyed Cape Cod Bay in a north to south direction. The weather was beautiful; partly cloudy, with less than 5 mph winds, and a visibility of 30 + miles. Our survey began on the backside of Cape Cod where a few dolphins were spotted and one fin whale, but no right whales. We did not see much more until we got to the Wellfleet area, where we found 15 skim and subsurface feeding North Atlantic right whales! There had been 2 whales spotted the previous day in this area. Along with the 15 right whales we also spotted 2 humpback whales, several fin whales, and a minke whale scattered throughout the bay. Through our surveys in previous seasons we know it is possible to have right whales in Cape Cod Bay in December, however 15 individuals greatly exceeded our expectations. In addition, we do not typically see surface feeding behavior until March and April. Normally, during December and January we would expect to see whales going on long dives without spending very much time at the surface. It goes without saying; our curiosity has been piqued to see what the 2013 season has in store for us.

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