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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Marineland Attracts Second Mother/Calf Sighting

For the second time this season a mother and calf pair were spotted just off the beautiful beach in Marineland, FL (photo above). This is the same location a mother and calf pair were spotted on Superbowl Sunday.  I was running errands in Palm Coast when the call came out just after 2pm on Tuesday, February 26 so I headed back to the Hammock and drove North on A1A.

Our right whales always attract a small crowd of avid watchers, scientists and surveyors so as I pulled off of A1A and into the Marineland boardwalk parking lot it wasn't difficult to know which direction to head. The south end was sprinkled with various groups of onlookers glued to their binoculars and a number of onlookers were standing atop the boardwalk railings.

While I did have my camera I was sans binoculars. I positioned myself next to two watchers who were glued to their binoculars. I stood there for several minutes and heard them say, there! There they are! But I couldn't see them so I started peppering them for help with where to look. It took another very long ten minutes, eyes peeled to the surface for any sign, before I was able to catch sight of them. I quickly pulled out my video camera and attempted to get it on tape...but was hindered by direct sun from behind me, hitting the viewfinder directly. I was shooting blind!  After a few more tries and fumbling around with my sunglasses, hats and whatever I could think of to help shield the sun I eventually put my camera down and enjoyed being in the moment.

It was fun to watch and witness the familiar and forceful, v-shaped blows and then wait for the anticipated breech - be it just the tip of a nose, toss of a flipper or a long back skimming the surface then disappearing. This is what we live for. And it was a glorious day weather-wise to experience it as the sun was high and the air temperate.

I wonder if there is any connection to the weather conditions and these sightings. Especially since we keep track of things like cloud cover, wind direction and water activity while on watch. And while I ponder on this a bit longer, here is a short video that proves I did somehow manage to get some activity on tape. And I apologize for the shaky camera work. I have also included a 3 minute video from my watch last Friday in The Hammock. The Language of Birds is the title of a book I am working on. Enjoy!