Familiar friends

It is back to Fernandina Beach for our final Florida field season on the mom/calf project. While that is a bit sad to think about, it is great to have Alex on board again and Pete will be joining us shortly – a great team to finish off with. And those aren’t the only familiar friends down here! Also spotted recently was Eg #4092, our dear friend from last year (see blog post “Curious encounters of the whale kind” written last year by Nathan).

Yesterday was our first day out for the season. After tracking with the plane for a short while I noticed a fluke waving at me just 1/2 mile away from the center of the sun’s glare. It couldn’t have been more perfect. As we arrived on the spot, we stopped around where we thought the whale would come up and we waited for it to reappear. After just a moment, not 5 meters from our stopped boat, a massive right whale head slowly broke the surface of the water to take a look at us, then slipped back below the surface. A few seconds later, on the other side of the boat, up pops that face again. This behavior, and that beautiful lumpy face, were more than enough to let us know that #4092 was making herself known yet again!

calf head above water
The beautiful 4092. Photo: Lisa Conger

For comparison, here is a photo I took last year. You can easily tell her by the scars on her chin.

close up of whale calf chin
Photo: Dana Cusano

She wasn’t quite as interested in us as she was last year, so our encounter was short, but I like to think maybe she remembered our big orange boat. No mom/calf pairs for us yet, but the season is young. Maybe we will even get another close encounter with our friend 4092! She needs a name, don’t you think?