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, January 7, 2011

I Finally Spotted One on My Watch! by Stephanie Susetka

At 9:10am on Weds the Hammock Dunes team became the first of the season to call in a whale sighting!

My first day of my fifth year of whale watching and what do you know - I finally spotted one on my shift!! There were several dolphins jumping and diving together and heading south.  Out of curiosity, I followed them for about 5 minutes and then saw a big black blob surface among them.  I wasn’t really sure, at first, if it was a whale, so I waited and watched for a few minutes before calling Sheila at Marineland.  The first question she had was whether I saw the callosities.  It was a pretty dull day and they didn’t really show up well, plus the whale was probably about ¼ mile away.  The binoculars are good, but my eyes may not be!!  Anyway, Sheila and Jim came down to the San Gabriel walkover for a look.  

By this time, the whale was further south surfacing every 7 or 8 minutes.  We headed for Clicker Beach.   She was still a ways off shore, but from there we could see the callosities, an unusual pattern around the mouth.   We also saw the signature “V” shape blow of the Right Whale.  Sheila and Jim also thought there might be two whales (mother/calf?) and called it in to Marineland for a possible flyover.  While at Clicker Beach, Sheila received a call from Team 3 at Varn Park that they had also spotted the whale (s).  

We all headed to Varn Park where two whales were confirmed.  The whales were now frolicking a bit and showing the tail and more of their body.  The dolphins were still in pursuit and helped identify the whales’ location when they were underwater.   Since the whales were still heading south, we all followed them to Beverly Beach.  At this point they were quite a ways from shore, maybe ½ a mile so after about 20 minutes of watching the same patterns, we decided that was enough excitement for the day!

-Stephanie Susetka

Photos courtesy Marineland Right Whale Project - Celebrating 11 years of Citizen science and stewardship. 

No comments:

Post a Comment