A wild ride

We just finished our last week for the CCB 2015 field season, which also means we finished our field work for the North Atlantic right whale mother/calf research project. Pretty crazy and a little bit weird for me since this has has been my primary focus for the¬†last three years with the Parks Lab. I will say, we definitely went out with a bang. Our last week on the Cape consisted of 5 days out on the water and 8 successful tag deployments. Granted, 4 of those lasted ~ 5 minutes or less…but we still got the tags on and that is the hardest part. The other 4 tags however varied from pretty good to amazing, with 2 lasting ~25 minutes, one lasting an hour, and our final tag out on the very last day staying on for 4 hours! Our best deployment for the entire project by FAR, and our best week for the entire project too.

six tagged whales
Photos from 6 of our last tag deployments. Photos: top left H. Blair, all others D. Cusano

Not only did we have great success tagging, but we had a good time too. We got to experience some of the best moments any right whale researcher can hope to experience, such as finding yourself surrounded by a dozen high skim feeding right whales and getting curious approaches from calves.

whale calf in water
A curious calf came to check us out. Check out that chunky skin. Photo: D. Cusano
whale calf sticking head out of water
Trying to get a better look at us. Photo: D. Cusano

As much as whale research can be frustrating and difficult, those moments make it all worth while and there is nothing else I would rather do. I sure am gonna miss those “little” guys. Until the next project, the Selkie crew bids you adieu!

three lab members posing on boat
Alex, Dana, and Grace onboard Selkie on the last day of the mom/calf project. Photo: M. Marx