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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WHALE IN THE HAMMOCK!


























4/28 UPDATE: After the sighting we learned that a sperm whale had been seen in the area prior to our sighting and that one beached at Cocoa Beach just days afterwards. Bob and I now believe the whale we spotted was likely this same sperm whale. Bob remembers the fluke as looking almost identical to the beached whale and my research of what I visually captured (smaller, white belly, stocky) lined up with a Minke - BOTH of which look similar and BOTH of which are very rare to see in our waters but now proven to be. What an unusual season in so many ways... 

3/22 UPDATE: The sighting has now been confirmed as a whale sighting thanks to the detailed report by Bob Bagdon of the Hammock Dunes sector who observed from his condo balcony a whale's fluke surfacing and splashing a few times on the morning of March 14th. Thanks, Bob, and great news. And even though it has not been identified as a right or a humpback it is still a wonderful thing to witness, life changing and enriching especially here in our own backyard and especially during an extremely quiet season. Until next time, whale on!

3/15 UPDATE: The whale sighting has still not been confirmed - either as a humpback or right. So please keep an eye out on the waters of our area. And note that there is a slight possibility of it being a large, black and white Manta Ray....but the flippers I saw were larger, as was the body and the white foam strip it left behind was long...so I'm sticking to whale.

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My dune walkover is closed for repair so I took my dog for her walk on the beach via a neighboring walkover (Portofina/Savona for you locals) and as soon as my feet hit the bottom step and sloughed off my sandals I looked out over the oceans expanse and noticed an unusually long, white foamy strip on the surface, farther out than any waves were breaking.  And since my husband and I saw something large and black breach the surface and fall back into the ocean just last week, certain it was a whale, I stopped in my tracks and stared - willing, waiting, wanting, hoping and then..

A WHALE shot up and out from under the white foam and spun and fell back onto its back. WOW! IT'S A WHALE!?!?  Then it happened again!! I instinctively reached for my camera (which I always carry), then my phone (which I always carry) then, realizing I had neither, I centered into whale watch mode and, while waiting for another breach, took note of the surrounding conditions and mentally tried to hold onto the details of what I saw.

Time stamp: Wednesday, March 14, 11:40AM. There were several large, white birds diving into the water creating the infamous v-shape splash as well as a few large pelicans (I believe, no binoculars). Details of the whale: It was compact and stocky in appearance, its skin looked smooth and shiny, it had a black back with a large, white belly and short flippers that could have been black and white or all black. So was it a right or a humpback? Was it a calf? It was funny. The image reminded me of the whales you see in movies, like a Shamu - an orca (looked like the photo above). But hey, they don't travel our waters do they? Plus, I couldn't confirm if there was a dorsal fin as it breached at an angle and fell on its back. And now the whale was nowhere to be found. And I continued my walk. Turning every so often and hoping to witness just one more time the small miracle. 

When I returned to my condo and called our local reporting number I learned that another whale watcher had seen and spotted the same whale and called it in. And that they were sure it was a humpback, or at least that it wasn't a right whale. Now I have seen humpbacks breach almost their entire body straight up in the air before crashing back. This whale was more round, came out sideways with only a third of its body and was shiny and smooth. So I watched the video I took of right whales breaching in the same location over a year ago and gee, if I didn't know better, if I wasn't told they have already left the area, I would have sworn it was a right. At least it looked just like the video, without binoculars, without a camera. One can only hope, right?

But after searching online and reading the differences between rights and humpbacks I just couldn't land on an answer and decided to simply feel blessed that I was able to witness this whale, celebrate its existence and share this with you.  Moreso after we've had a whale-less season here in the Hammock.

So if you also saw the whale today it would be helpful if you would comment here with your thoughts and details...and better yet, if you took photos of the whale today please send them along to me and I will post it here for all to enjoy.  Whale on!


2 comments:

  1. On March 18th around 5pm , my husband and I saw a couple whale spouts off the shore of N. Redington Beach, Florida (Gulf of Mexico). We were in a 7th floor Condo watching six or seven dolphins fishing and then saw the whale spout a mile or so in the distant.

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  2. Kathleen that is great news, especially this season. Thanks for sharing!

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