2014 Florida Volunteer Updates

As the North Atlantic right whales migrate to the South Georgia/Northern Florida coast each winter volunteers help watch for and capture critical details related to this endangered species. This information helps scientists track the fate of the species and acts as a first alert system to pilots in the shipping lanes to avoid accidental killings. This blog shares the findings, photos and other pertinent information gathered from the Palm Coast Sector Volunteer Team while helping to connect and communicate the many ways we can protect the right whales and sustain our wonderful ocean life.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Ocean Life Callings

On my first day as a volunteer whale watcher it was a very cold & cloudy day and I was told it was actually a good day to spot whales. I didn't ask why at the time. I made the assumption it had something to do with the calm waters or just the weather in general, kind of like how worms always come out when it rains. Well maybe not quite like that. Anyway, today the sun was beaming, the skies were crispy clear and the surf was kicking up a bit of a spray as the onshore breeze steadily pushed the waves towards me and I thought about how before I volunteered I normally would have said that this type of day would be a good day for whale watching. And then I pointed my binox southeast and winced as the sun's reflection off the waters burned sparkling diamonds and mirrored white light shapes into my retinae. This, combined with the white caps and waves, made me think it would be next to impossible to spot a whale today, if she was out there, at least for 50% of my viewing area.

As the winds increased my efforts to keep warm were dwindling and yet I became a bit more competitive in my search to spot a whale. I was even pleased to discover a few dolphins between the waves, white caps and sun. Then I plopped down on the top step of the Clicker Beach walkover and put on another layer and started rubbing my hands together to try and get the circulation going.
I could hear the sound of the surf all around me. I love how the direction of the waves shift based on the wind direction and when the breeze is on shore it is amazing how loud the crashing surf can be. Today the surf was especially loud and it echoed through me making me feel like one of those sea shells you pick up and put to your ear.

The bird activity picked up again. I spotted another dolphin or maybe the same one returned knowing I was there alone, waiting and watching. It was unusual that there were no fishing boats out on the waters and as I looked around I noticed that the few people that were out walking when I arrived had all disappeared and the few shore fishermen south towards the pier had also left. I was really alone. My hands were freezing. My body couldn't stop shivering and before I picked up my whale bag to move to San Gabrial it came to me that we only have a few weeks left of whale watching and so I took another look and as I did I couldn't help but think what a nice gentle turn my life has taken in such a few short weeks.

A few minutes later as I came up to the San Gabriel walkover, the sound of the surf rising with each step, I could hear the call of a cardinal and stopped in an attempt to find it. As I did I quickly grabbed my camera and was able to get two shots off before he flew off. Out over the ocean waters I noticed the activity here was also in full swing. More white circling and diving birds were out in the distance and groups of sea ducks, gulls and terns were in abundance right near my perch. I turned my face up to the sun and took in a deep breath of crisp salt air and slowly exhaled. Spring surely must be around the corner. Possibly a few more whale sightings, too. Whale on!

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