Field Notes – May 2021
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03 May 2021
On each of our last three flights, we documented 80+ whales, and we started off Monday’s flight unsure of what we might find. On one extreme, we anticipated even larger aggregations in CCB; on the other, we were also ready to find CCB completely empty, assuming the whales had found their way into northern waters over the weekend.
We took off from Provincetown (PVC) at 9:30am with gorgeous conditions – little wind and calm seas. As we headed south along the eastern side of the Cape, we were immediately greeted by #4040 Chiminea subsurface feeding with her calf nearby. We are especially fond of Chiminea because of her story and her survival. She was born in 2008, and in April 2011, our aerial team spotted her entangled in line in Cape Cod Bay, and our Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team rushed to the scene and removed over 100 feet of line from her mouth and body before she swam off, gear-free. This year – 10 years after her disentanglement — she has returned with her first calf, and we are so happy that they have made it this far and look healthy.
The southern part of CCB was relatively quiet, but we did finally encounter a number of subsurface and side-feeding right whales in the northwestern corner of the bay. Most were individuals that we have seen previously this season, but we did still find a couple new individuals. Brigid also captured some great photos of the 2019 calf of 3270 (who has not yet been assigned a catalog number or name) feeding alongside a fin whale and two Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
After finishing our track lines in CCB, we headed up along the coast of Massachusetts Bay to look for any right whale activity in nearshore waters before transiting back to PVC. All in all, we documented 39 right whales, including two moms that are new to us: #3942 and #2460 Monarch along with their calves. We have now seen 12 of the 16 live mom-calf pairs this season.
We are monitoring weather for the upcoming weeks, planning to fly when we can and see when/if the whales decide to head north for the summer.