More Dolphins and an Uncooperative Mom

Monday, February 17:

We met the Stellwagen about 60 miles to the southeast of Fernandina.  After a quick crew change, we surveyed and found more spotted dolphins.  We got a few more biopsy samples, and I got to practice my dolphin photography skills—in case you were wondering, dolphins are a LOT faster than whales, and it definitely took some getting used to.

dolphin at surface of water
Juvenile spotted dolphin coming to the surface
dolphin with scared fin
Choosing dolphins with distinctive dorsal fins like this one help to avoid sampling the same animal multiple times

After finding and sampling a few different groups of dolphins, including some offshore bottlenose dolphins, one of the survey planes relayed a sighting of a mother/calf pair of right whales farther inshore.  We traveled toward the sighting when we got another call from a group working with Florida Atlantic University who had sighted an additional mom/calf pair closer to our location.  It was getting late in the afternoon, so we went to the closer sighting.  Unfortunately this mom (#2746) was a little too wily for us.  She waited until we were almost ready to tag, then sank down at the last moment.  At this point, it was late enough in the afternoon to call it a day and head home, hoping for better luck tomorrow.

tag missing whale
#2746 sinking down during a tag attempt

–Jess McCordic