Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays Everyone

I just wanted to post...

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays


Happy New Year

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank You

Hello everyone! Well, now that the season is really officially over and the boats are put to bed for the season I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who joined us during this unforgettable season. It was most certainly one I will never forget.

Probably the most special part of the season was the amount of time that we were able spend with the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. These whales, whose world wide population is now estimated at around 415, are commonly found in the Bay of Fundy from mid July-October, but typically on their critical feeding grounds, around the Grand Manan Basin in middle of the mouth of the Bay. This season, for about 1.5 weeks the very end of August and the beginning of September there were a number of right whales who made their way much closer to St. Andrews. There were about 10 individuals, including 2 mom/calf pairs documented between the Wolves and the Northern tip of Campobello Island and about 40 individuals documented behind the Wolves. We also had the chance to do a very special right whale trip that took us ~40 miles from St. Andrews directly out into the middle of the old shipping lanes (they were moved in order to protect the North Atlantic right whale) where we were surrounded by an estimated 40+ right whales (the next day, which was clear and had great visibility, in the same area where we were there were approximately 75-100 right whales seen). To spend this time with right whales and to see the scars and injuries caused by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement had a great effect on me, shocked me every single time I saw these scars....these whales deserve so much more from us and we need to find a way to help these whales and preserve a struggling fishing industry at the same time. If you want to read more about this check out the book Entanglements: The Intertwined Fates of Whales and Fisherman.

I wanted to share 2 videos from out trips this season with right whales.

This is Tips, RW1124, an adult male first documented in the Bay in 1980. We spent 4 trips with Tips and every time we saw curiosity like this...we fell in LOVE with Tips this season.

This video is a SAG, a Surface Active Group. SAG's are often seen with right whales and here on feeding grounds SAG's are a courtship behaviour involving a single, focal female and a number of males. The whale on her back in the video, with her belly up is the female. SAG's on feeding grounds are not for conception.

If you want to see more video and pictures from our trips this season with North Atlantic right whales scroll back through this blog. Also, for more right whale info check out

Our time spent with right whales was limited to a very small part of our 2009 was just such a memorable part for me but from the middle of August until the end of our season we spent time with the most recognizable and probably the most loved of all the large whales, the humpback. Part of whale we do at Quoddy is photo ID, this means that when we see humpbacks we always try our very best to get a good shot of underside of the fluke (tail)....and with right whales we try our best to photograph the callosity pattern on the head and we send the photographs down to the New England Aquarium. With humpbacks they are individually ID'ed by the pigmentation on the underside of the fluke, the black and white patterns and then given names on those patterns. This season we documented the most number of humpbacks, 34, since we have been keeping track in 2004. With humpbacks there were a number of highlights....seeing Cork again, a 7 year old female we are so fond of at Quoddy Link....seeing a number adults, including Spoon, known to be incredibly BIG....and 2 mom and calf pairs! This was the first season in my 8 years with Quoddy that we have documented a mom/calf humpback pair in our part of the Bay of Fundy and it was incredible!

Here is a list of the humpbacks we saw during the 2009 season.

Arrowhead - a male first seen in 1976, Quoddy also saw in 2007
Blanco - a female and the 1989 calf of Asterisk, Quoddy also saw in 2007
Clamp '08 calf
Colorado - a female first seen in 1998
Colorado '09 calf - the 2009 calf of Colorado
Cord - a female and the 2002 calf of Bungee
Cork - a female and the 2002 calf of Mica, seen by Quoddy every season since 2004
Crystal - a male and the 1980 calf of Salt
EKG - seen by Quoddy every season since 2006 (was an unknown)
Flyer - a male first seen in 1979
Grand Manan - a male and the 2002 calf of Fundy
Inlet - seen by Quoddy in 2008 (was an unknown)
Mahjong - the 2007 calf of Lacey
Meristem - seen by Quoddy in 2008 (was an unknown)
Notchy - a male first seen in 1981
Patchwork - a male first seen in 1997
Pike - the 2007 calf of Six, seen by Quoddy in 2008
Platform - a female first seen in 1997
Quarternote - a male and the 2001 calf of Buckshot, seen by Quoddy in 2005 and 2006
Siphon- a female first seen in 1992, 6 known calves
Siphon '09 calf - a female and the 2009 calf of Siphon
Sonogram - a female and the 2004 calf of Peedee, seen by Quoddy in 2006
Spar '08 calf - the 2008 calf of Spar
Spinnaker - a female born in 2004, seen by Quoddy since 2007
Spoon - a female first seen in 1979
Teather '08 calf - the 2008 calf of Teather
Tornado - a female and the 1981 calf of Fringe
Touchdown '08 calf - the 2008 calf of Touchdown
and 4 unknowns

The 4 unknowns and the 2008 calves will be put up for naming next spring, I will do a separate post for whale naming so please get your thinking caps on! We need to think of some great names.

Below are a few videos of humpbacks from the 2009 season...

This in one of the unknowns that will be put up for naming next spring and was also our first humpback sighting in 2009

This is Cork playing in rockweed

This is Patchwork

These 2 videos are of Siphon, her precious baby girl and Crystal

And this season was not only amazing for humpbacks and right whales but we had so many trips with incredible fin whale sightings, many right of East Quoddy Head Light and some amazing lunge feeding minke whale sightings as well as bluefin tuna! Take a look back through the blog for lots of photos and more videos from the 2009 season.

The season was one that we will never forget, we saw the most number and variety of whales CLOSE TO HOME that John has ever was such a special season.

The one thing that Jolinne and myself really wanted to do this season was to make sure that people "got it" make sure that they understood the privilege of spending the time with the whales. You know, not everyone "got it" but the people that did....they really "got it" and that's why I do my job. Thank You to everyone who shared with us your excitement and awe of the whales...thank you for emailing me with your kind words....thank you for reading this blog and thank you for the flowers!

Keep in touch with the blog and on Twitter and Facebook. I will post whale sightings from breeding grounds and share interesting links.

Thank You all and we will see you in 2010.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I'd like to introduce...

Hello all, I just wanted to let you know that one of the unknowns that John, Jolinne and myself saw on our fall survey has been ID'ed...this is the 2008 calf of Spar

With this ID it brings the number of whales that we saw this season that are going to need names next spring to 8 so get your thinking caps on and I will keep you posted as the 2010 Gulf of Maine Humpback Naming Event gets close.

Thanks for staying in touch :)


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Survey on the Quoddy Scout

Hello everyone!

John, Jolinne and myself headed out this morning on the Quoddy Scout to search for whales as it has been over a week since we have been out and we have 2 trips left in our 2009 season.

We documented 6 humpbacks around the Owen Basin this morning on the flood tide including one that is new to us bringing our total to 34 humpbacks for the 2009 season!

Here are the humpbacks that we saw this morning, we also saw EKG but the fluke shots I got were blurry so I didn't post them.

This whale is the one I don't recognize but was seen earlier this season by the folks from Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. If this whale does not get matched to an individual in the catalog it will be put up for naming next spring!

This is Quarternote, a male and the 2001 calf of Buckshot.

This is Sodapop, an unknown who was just named last spring

This is the 2008 calf of Teather who will be named next spring.

This whale is an unknown who we also saw on September 17th and will be named next spring.

Thanks for checking in today, we have a charter tomorrow with a high school and our last whale watch is scheduled for October 22nd at 2:00 pm (call 1-877-688-2600 for reservations).


Monday, October 19, 2009

Join us for our last whale watch of the 2009 season

Hello everyone, I know that I have been absent for the past week from our blog but we haven't been on the water in over a week! The fall wind has been kept us in the sheltered waters of Passamaquoddy Bay...where there are no whales...ever! A lot of our guests do not realize that there is a transit time in order to see whales from St. Andrews, we have to cross Passamaquoddy Bay (~5 miles) and then through the Islands and out into the open Bay of Fundy, usually minimum 8-10 miles (20-30 minutes on the Quoddy Link) before we really think about seeing a whale. Usually this time of the season we have to go at least 15 miles out into the open Bay, off between the Wolves and Grand Manan to see whales...and for that we need some good weather (and by good weather I don't mean sun, I mean good sea condition).

Our last trip is scheduled for this Thursday, October 22nd at 2:00 pm, come and join us and be a part of this unforgettable 2009 season!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A great day with Siphon & her baby girl, Inlet and Quarternote and some LARGE fin whales!

Hello everyone,

We had another great fall day on the water with fin whales and humpbacks on both our morning charter and our 2:00 pm whale watch.

On both trips we spent time with 3 large fin whales not too far from Whitehorse Island, in the protected waters of the inshore area. After spending some time with the finbacks John decided to run us offshore and search for humpbacks on both trips, the weather was a little breezy in the afternoon but nothing too bad to keep us in the islands.

On our morning trip we made our way to the Wolves Bank and we found 3 humpbacks who we quickly ID'ed as Quarternote and Siphon and her 2009 calf. We also saw these 3 on our 2:00 pm departure further east behind the Wolves.

Below are some photos from today of Siphon and her baby girl...

This is Siphon, first documented in the early 1990's and this is her 6th known calf.

This is the 2009 calf, a female, of Siphon and she is amazing to watch. She often does "headstands", raising her tail...and half her body...out of the water.

Mom and calf traveling together

This is Quarternote, a male and the 2001 calf of Buckshot.

On our way out to search for humpbacks on our afternoon trip we stopped with a finback not too far off the bank and then a humpback popped up not far off the boat and it turned out to be Inlet. Inlet is a young whale who we first photographed as an unknown last season and was just named last spring. Today we noticed some new scars, most likely from an entanglement, on Inlet that were not there when we last recorded him on September 24th. Entanglements in fishing gear is one of the greatest threats that face whales today.

Thanks for checking in today!! It was an awesome day!


PS the photo below...from left to right is Quarternote, Siphon and her 2009 calf.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A great fall afternoon with fin whales and Spoon!

Hello everyone,

What a great afternoon we had. The winds were stronger today then yesterday but not strong enough to keep us in the harbour or even in shore. We started our afternoon behind the Wolves, in the same area where we were yesterday in hopes of finding humpbacks. John and Jolinne on the upper deck spotted a few blows and as we made our way closer we noticed they were fin whales. We did manage to get some nice looks but then the whales did long dives and we never saw them again....some days whale watching takes a lot of patience and persistence.

John decided to take us past South Wolf towards the Owen Basin and he spotted a blow ahead of us and a tail come up....we new we found at least one humpback. When we arrived we quickly ID'ed the LARGE humpback as a female we saw for the first time yesterday, Spoon. When we were with Spoon we did see 2 other humpbacks, at a distance in different directions but we were never close enough to get a tail shot....there is always tomorrow morning.

Below are some pictures of Spoon I took today.

Thanks for checking in, we have scheduled whale watches until the 19th of October (always weather dependent) so come and join us!


Monday, October 05, 2009

Amazing October day...2 new humpbacks...welcome Blanco and Spoon to our part of the Bay of Fundy

Hello everyone, what a great day we had!! We made our way offshore and had to search a little but John spotted some blows to the east behind Eastern Wolf and we found 3 humpbacks....and 2 were new! With our sightings today it brings our total to 33 humpbacks for the 2009 far!

I want to share a bunch of photos with you from today...

This is Blanco, one of the new humpbacks from today. We also saw Blanco in 2007.

This is Spoon, a female and BY FAR the largest humpback I have ever seen and the second new humpback of the day. She is known for being very large.

The third humpback today was Quarternote, a male and the 2001 calf of Buckshot.

Quarternote was rolling over a little and slapping his large pectoral flippers on the surface of the water. Below is a series of a pec slap.

I also have some pictures of the whales traveling side-by-side to show size comparison and the difference between the dorsal fins.

This is Quarternote and Spoon

This is Blanco and Spoon

There is something that I want to share, one thing people often ask is, "do they tag whales?" Researchers are tagging humpback whales to gain a clearer picture of their underwater habits and foraging strategies. The data collected is used to redirect water traffic and implement safer fishing practices to keep these whales out of harms’ way.

Thanks SO much for checking in today,


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Fin whales and EKG...a great Saturday

Hello everyone, we had 2 trips today...lots of field trips for schools to go whale watching this year. On our 10:00 am trip we found ourselves between South Wolf and Bliss with 4 large finback whales. It was great to spend some time with these powerful whales and we got some amazing looks.

Our afternoon trip took us to the Grand Manan Chanel on the ebb tide in hopes of seeing some humpback whales. When we arrived there were some other whale watching boats with a pair of finbacks so we traveled further into the chanel to looks for humpbacks.....but no luck. We made our way back to the fin whales closer to the Campobello shoreline and the 2 whales were so great to watch and we had some great close looks at the ~50 foot whales. With a tip from the Grand Manan Ferry that there were reports of humpbacks towards South Wolf a few hours ago we decided to take a run over and on our way John picked up a humpback whale (he did a partial breach so made it easy to see!). We quickly ID'ed the humpback as EKG and even though EKG was doing ~10 minute dives we still got some great views.

Here you can see the characteristic upturned fluke tips of EKG.

Thanks for checking in today, there is some not-so-great weather in the forecast for tomorrow...we will have to see what happens.


Friday, October 02, 2009

Humpbacks in the Grand Manan Chanel...welcome Sodapop and another new individual

Hi everyone!

Finally, a day with light winds and calmer seas and we were able to explore the Grand Manan Chanel well this afternoon and we documented 4 humpbacks...and 2 were new to our area! With these 2 new humpbacks that brings our total number of humpbacks for our little part of the Bay of Fundy to 31...and the season isn't over yet!

This is Sodapop, one of the new humpbacks we saw today. Sodapop was an unknown that was just named this past spring.

This is the other new humpback from today, this is Sonogram, the 2004 calf of PeeDee. Thank YOU Jelly Doughnut for all of your ID's this season!!

This is Meristem

This is EKG

Thanks for checking in today.....tomorrow should be another good day of whale watching


Thursday, October 01, 2009

An afternoon with Colorado and her calf....a great way to start off October

Hello everyone!!

I can not believe that today is the 1st of October! Where has the season gone....every year it seems to go by faster and faster. We had one whale watch this afternoon at 1:00 pm and again we had some autumn breezes to deal with but with people dressed in their warmest clothes they brought with them on vacation we made our way offshore to search for humpbacks. We didn't have to look very far today as we found Colorado and her 2009 calf about 14 miles from home. They were both staying down quite long this afternoon, at one point for more than 8 minutes which seems impressive for an ~9 month old calf.

Below are some photos I took today of the pair, the calf tail breached and played at the surface a little to the delight of everyone on board the Quoddy Link.

On our way back to St. Andrews we made a dog-leg over towards Nancy's Head, Campobello Island where we got some GREAT looks at 3 fin whales. One of the three was so big, must have been almost 60 feet!!

Thanks for checking in today!