RIGHT WHALE RESEARCH

The Waiting Game

Written by Monica Zani

Cheticamp Harbor photographed at the end of a long day. Photo: Monica Zani

The first week in Cape Breton was a blur. We hit the ground running with two days on the water followed by two days on shore followed by another three full days of survey- five surveys in one week. A typical survey day for the Callisto team was to be at the wharf by 6 AM, launched and heading out of the channel by 6:30 AM. Our team of three worked in hourly rotations: one hour spent observing the water for sightings followed by one hour at the helm, then back up on the observation platform at the stern and so on.  However, the long day would not conclude when we reached the wharf at 7:00 PM. Our arrival was followed by rinsing the salt water off the boat and trailer, fueling for the next day, and an hour of data processing back at the house.

Alex and Brigid on watch. Photo: Monica Zani

Exhausted and a feeling a little defeated that our first week produced no right whale sightings, we were quickly rejuvenated by the news that our fellow researches (on the offshore trip aboard the Shelagh) would be pulling into Cheticamp.  The team aboard the Shelagh had left Campobello Island, New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy the previous week. They too had long, frustrating days that lacked right whales. After spending a few days on Roseway Basin, they transited the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia for a couple of days, and since the wind was not cooperative, they plotted a course to Cheticamp. The team arrived looking happy and ready for a shower, laundry and a home cooked meal. Catching up with each other lifted all of our spirits!

Very exciting to see the Shelagh sail into Cheticamp. Photo: Alex Loer