Info: Right Whales re Journey North/Anne Smrcina

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 14 Feb 1996 11:43:01

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From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Info: Right Whales re Journey North/Anne Smrcina
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> =
> Right Whale Migration Update                                  =
> February 14, 1996
> =
> To: Journey North
> From: Anne Smrcina
> Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
> =
> Chris Slay from the New England Aquarium's right whale research team
> reports that the week brought another nine sightings in the Georgia-
> Northern Florida area. He notes that these are larger than average
> numbers for this time of the year. He's been spending a lot of time
> trying to get next to a mother and calf in order to attach a satellite
> transmitter to the mom. The research team wants to better understand
> who these whales use this southern habitat and how they return to the
> summer feeding and breeding grounds. According to Chris, "it is
> essential to know where these whales spend time if we are going to
> identify dangers in those areas."
> =
> Also, according to Chris, "It sure ain't easy." Not only is the whale
> large, but it's very wary about strangers hanging around its newborn
> baby. Rather than speed up to the whale (something they always want to
> avoid), they decided to use the stealth method. After driving the
> inflatable 20' Zodiac boat to within 100 meters of the mother and
> calf, they began to paddle. Says Chris, "I felt a little ridiculous as
> we neared the pair and the calf pushed itself onto its mother's back
> as if to have a look. The calf was bigger than our boat. Then the
> mother raised her head, dwarfing us."
> =
> After several attempts, Chris and another researcher were able to get
> the tag on, which began transmitting on Feb. 12. (I hope to be able to
> get some reports to you soon about this mother-calf pair).
> =
> The whale "Metompkin" reported on last week continues its northward
> movement. On Feb. 11 she was over 400 miles due east of the Virginia
> coast with 2,600 fathoms of water below her. The last satellite
> reading had her some 330 miles southeast of Cape Cod.
> =
> The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass. is gearing up
> for a possible disentanglement operation. These efforts can be
> extremely dangerous, due to the large size of the whales and the fact
> that they take place in open water. In fact, not just anyone is
> allowed to attempt a disentanglement of an endangered whale. Not only
> can the individual be injured or killed, but well-intentioned but
> unknowledgeable actions can cause more harm than good to the whale.
> The Center is the only group in the northeast with a permit from the
> National Marine Fisheries Service to perform these disentanglements.
> I'll have more coordinates and word on Metompkin in next week's
> report. Metompkin data is also available through WhaleNet on the world
> wide web.
> =
> And sadly, there are now two whales that have been reported killed off
> the Florida/Georgia coast. Lindsay, a large adult male, was found with
> its head crushed from a ship strike two weeks ago. And this past week
> a young female (35 feet long, possibly 5-10 years old) was found
> floating about 35 nautical miles off Mayport, Florida (An necropsy was
> not possible on this whale so the cause of death is unknown). Let's
> hope this is the last whale death I'll have to report during this
> Journey North season.
> =
> Until next week, this is Anne Smrcina from the Stellwagen Bank
> National Marine Sanctuary signing off.
> =
> The Next Right Whale Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 21,
> 1996
> =
>                                                           [Image]
> =
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