Researchers with the Right Whale Research Program at the Anderson Cabot Center were key members of two research cruises in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this summer. These are the updates from the August cruise.


There is so much work that goes into preparing for a successful offshore research cruise that once you leave the dock, it feels like a huge weight is lifted and you are finally able to focus on the actual science and data collection. When the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Team August” (captain, first mate, three Anderson Cabot Center right whale biologists, and three Dalhousie plankton and acoustic biologists) finally left the Shippagan, New Brunswick, docks on the J.D. Martin early on August 7, it felt good to be at sea again and the excitement for right whale sightings was palpable.

An aerial view of the J.D. Martin.
An aerial view of the J.D. Martin. Photo credit: Northeast Fisheries Science Center/NOAA.

Our plan for the next two and a half weeks was similar to the July cruise: survey the western side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where right whale aggregations had been seen to collect photos, behavioral data, acoustic recordings, oceanographic data, and biopsy, fecal, and plankton samples.

The right whale's distinctive v-shaped blow.
The right whale's distinctive v-shaped blow. Photo: Kelsey Howe, New England Aquarium/Canadian Whale Institute.
plankton tow
The Dalhousie crew conducts a vertical plankton tow. Photo: Kelsey Howe, New England Aquarium/Canadian Whale Institute.

Our first leg at sea was five days of rough weather. But we persevered and photographed 134 right whale sightings (at least 42 individuals), deployed several sonobuoys, attempted several plankton tows each day, and even collected a poop sample! We also photographed two of our sponsorship whales: Calvin and Manta. Stay tuned for more information about the August cruise, including details on poop collection!

“Harmonia” waves her fluke around in the air.
“Harmonia” waves her fluke around in the air. Photo credit: Monica Zani, New England Aquarium/Canadian Whale Institute.
“Lemur” is easily identified by the deep propeller cuts on his fluke.
“Lemur” is easily identified by the deep propeller cuts on his fluke. Photo credit: Monica Zani, New England Aquarium/Canadian Whale Institute.
“Calvin” is a fan favorite that we are always happy to see.
“Calvin” is a fan favorite that we are always happy to see. Photo credit: Philip Hamilton, New England Aquarium/Canadian Whale Institute.

 


 

This work is made possible in part by the generosity of Irving Oil, lead sponsor of the New England Aquarium’s North Atlantic right whale research program. 

More about this field season