Monday, May 04, 2015

2014 in review....through video.

Hello everyone, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine.  As we gear up for another season I thought we could start the year off by taking a look back at some of the highlights of 2014 through video.

Let's start in July where we had an incredibly rare and exciting sighting of a great white shark only 1 mile out of St. Andrews Harbour!  We were able to get photos and working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy our sighting has been added to their catalogue and the shark has been named "Quoddy"

Here is a video of our sighting, a BIG thanks to Dave Hannett for sharing this video




Nick also did an interview with CBC radio Shift about the sighting and you can check out the interview here

We had more great shark sightings in 2014 including basking sharks and porbeagles.  The Shark Identification Network on Grand Manan even did a blog post on our sightings and you should check that out here

OK, let's move on from the white shark sighting and talk about minke whales.  We saw many minke whales through out the season, with minke whale sightings on almost every departure.  Minkes are not always the easiest to watch but they are so beautiful and we do have a particular minke whale in the area who is known for his acrobatics.  We spent time with Gonzo at the beginning of August while he was breaching many times.  Gonzo was first picked up by my co naturalist Nick while he was captaining a zodiac and he got this video



Here is a photo that I took when we arrived



Next I want to look at fin whales.  We had fewer finbacks in our area than previous years and they were later to arrive as well.  Most likely this was due to the lower amount of their preferred food, Atlantic herring, in the area possibly due to record warm temperatures from 2012.  In 2014 we did spend a few weeks with a very special mom and calf fin whale pair (one of three pairs we documented).  Not only was the calf incredibly beautiful with unique markings but this "little" one was very curious making many close inspections of the boat, not a behaviour you often see from finbacks.

Here is a photo of the mom and calf pair, it will be very exciting to see if this young whale returns to the area this summer.


Here is a video of the pair




Nick was also able to get some underwater footage of the calf!!



Now let's move away from whales, we will come back to them, I promise, but I want to take a look at our incredible sightings of the Mola mola or ocean sunfish.  The Mola mola is the heaviest known teleost (bony fish) with a weight of more than 1000kg!  They are active swimmers and not passive, planktonic swimmers at the mercy of the oceans currents like once believed.  They move by simultaneously stroking their dorsal and anal fins (they lack a caudal fin altogether) and they make substantial vertical movements in the water column.  They are neutrally buoyant without a swimmer bladder due to a low-density subcutaneous gelatinous tissue.  This tissue does not compress with depth and has been reported in some deep sea fishes.  They live on a diet of nutrient-poor jellyfish so they must consume an immense amount to maintain their size.

Here is a video I took from the upper deck of the Quoddy Link



Here are 2 underwater videos that Nick took during 2014






OK, on to humpbacks, I would the say the favourite of many who join us on the water.  We didn't have very many humpback sightings during 2014 but here is the breakdown
- On September 15th and 16th we spent time with a yearling humpback, the 2013 calf of Apex.  It's very interesting to document this young whale in the Bay as Apex has never been recorded in Fundy.
- On September 7th, our annual offshore trip where we would hope to find right whales (no rights and hard to search due to weather) we found a trip of humpback; Foggy, Whistler and Vee
- On October 11th we found a pair of humpbacks, Froth and Lacuna.

Here is a video of the 2013 calf of Apex taken on September 16th,  This young whale was very active and we were lucky enough to catch the end of the activity.



OK, now on to the highlight of my season, and one of the top five moments in my 14 years with Quoddy Link Marine.  On October 11th we headed way offshore with a boatload of eager passengers looking for humpbacks and possibly right whales.  Well, we found humpbacks (Lacuna and Froth as I mentioned above) but we also found Old Thom, an adult male orca!!  Killer whale sightings in Fundy are rare but Old Thom has been seen in 2010, 2012 and 2014 off Grand Manan, NB as well as off Brier Island, NS.  This sighting is something I will never, ever forget, if you have ever doubted that the wild is the ONLY place where whales belong please watch this video and maybe you will think about it again.




I also did an interview with CBC radio NB Shift, please check out the interview here.  I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about this sighting and a huge smile comes across my face!

Thank You so much for checking in and reading our 2014 year in review by video.  Let me know if you enjoy reading this blog either here or on the facebook post, I love hearing back from our readers.

I can't wait to start bringing you sightings from our 2015 season, it's just around the corner!!

Cheers,
Danielle


Thursday, October 16, 2014

CBC Radio interview

Hello everyone, I did an interview with CBC radio "Shift New Brunswick" about our recent sighting of Old Thom, the adult male killer whale we sighted on our trip on Saturday, October 11th and I thought I would share it with you all!  Just click on the photo of Old Thom below and you will be taken to the audio clip!


Thank You so much for all of your comments and questions about Old Thom.  I still check chills when I see the video or his photo or when people stop me on the street here.

Cheers,
Danielle

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We met Old Thom....a lone sea wolf in the Bay of Fundy!!

I don't even know where to begin,,,,,we had the most amazing trip on Saturday, October 11th!!  We saw a killer whale!!

Let me start from the beginning, it was a beautiful October day and our plan was to run out towards our offshore area, off the Wolves Bank, maybe towards Whale Cove, Grand Manan to search for fin whales with hopes of maybe humpbacks.  So we headed out and we didn't see anything off the Wolves so we headed towards Grand Manan and still didn't see any whales so we had the option to head back inshore and watch minkes that we knew were in the Islands or head out, past Grand Manan towards Whitehead Island.  So we talked to our passengers, letting them know the options and that if we continued out into the open Bay of Fundy the trip would be longer (5-6 hours in total).  With everyone game and adventurous spirits we headed out, past Swallowtail (we did see a finback and a minke here but we decided not to wait) to search for humpbacks and possibly even North Atlantic right whales.  About 6 miles past North Head Nick saw a blow...and a tail..it was a humpback!  We slowed down and we waited for the humpback to resurface and something caught my eye....my breath caught and I knew John, our captain and the owner of Quoddy Link, saw the same thing....was it what I thought...or maybe it was a fluke of a right whale on it's side.  I told Nick to watch 10 o'clock position with us and then a 6 foot dorsal fin started breaking the surface and I screamed....an orca!!  It was Old Thom, an adult male orca who has been seen in the Bay of Fundy in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 as well as off Roseway Basin in 2009.  If you follow this blog at all you are aware how emotional I get and this was no exception.   I was shaking and the tears were flowing freely (as they are know as I remember the experience).  A killer whale sighting in the Bay of Fundy is incredibly rare and yes, they are typically seen in family groups, or pods, but Old Thom is somewhat of a loner.  We spent over 30 minutes with Old Thom as well as the humpbacks, IDed as Froth and Lacuna, that we were waiting for originally.

Here are a bunch of photos of Old Thom




















 And the humpbacks, Froth and Lacuna....at one point we had the orca on one side of the Quoddy Link and the pair of humpbacks immediately on the other...both at the surface at the same time!






Froth

Lacuna

Also, a video of our killer whale sighting that Nick took



I want to make sure I mention that we ended up 37 miles from St. Andrews, east of the Clarks Ground and way out of our typical range of our average 3-3.5 hour whale watch (it ended up being almost a 6 hour trip).  We took advantage of the calm weather, adventurous passengers and the desire to close out our 2014 season with a bang!  We were searching for humpbacks and right whales but were reminded you never know what you may find in the open Bay of Fundy!

This was my first wild orca sighting and is so incredibly special to me and is something I will never, ever forget!  THANK YOU to everyone who joined us on Saturday, October 11th...thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and this very special experience with us....THANK YOU to captain John for being willing to take us out into the open Bay of Fundy (I probably shouldn't share how many hundred litres of fuel we burned!!)...and to Nick, my other half on the water,...I still can't believe it...we met OLD THOM!!!!

And I am still shaking my head in awe and wonder....

Cheers,
Danielle

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The First Week of October

Good afternoon everyone, it's a rainy and windy day here in St. Andrews and our 1pm departure has been cancelled so I thought I would take the time to share with you some photos from our trips this past week.

We have been spending time with minke whales in amongst the Islands this past week, we have had quite a bit of wind to deal with but on Monday, October 6th the weather was calm and our Scout Boat headed out to cover all of the offshore areas and search for some larger whales but unfortunately John was unable to locate any whales within our reach of a regular whale watch.

Here are some minke whale photos from the past week

Minke whale, Slice

Minke whale off Wilsons Beach, Campobello Island, NB


On October 3rd, on the flood tide we did see a familiar fin whale off the mouth of Head Harbour Passage.  The same whale was in the area on October 2nd as well, we are still hopeful he may show back up

Fin whale at the mouth of Head Harbour Passage

Fin whale (Bliss Island Light in the background)

We have had some great bald eagle sightings as well this past week


There has been lots of feeding activity in Head Harbour Passage from harbour porpoise and gulls (great black back, herring and Bonaparte's as well as a few kittiwakes) and we have seen a few northern gannets as well in the area.


Harbour porpoise mom and calf pair

Northern gannet

Northern gannet

The sightings of harbour and grey seals continue to be great on many of the ledges and reefs in the area.

Harbour and grey seals on Black Ledge

Female grey seals

Female grey seal 

Female grey seal 

Young grey seal 

We still have departures scheduled on October 9, 10, 11, 13, 18, and 19th but departures will be available throughout the week if we have interest.  Just call 1-877-688-2600 for information and reservations.

Common loon 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Annual Coastal and Pelagic Bird Trip

Good afternoon everyone, I wanted to share a brief update about our Annual Coastal and Pelagic Bird Trip which was on the morning of Saturday, September 27th.  The weather was perfect and the slower speeds due to oue of our engines being down was no issue with a trip like this!  The highlights of the trip were a 1st winter LITTLE GULL, huge rafts of eider ducks, jaegers, multiple great cormorants and 1000's of Bonaparte's gulls.  We also saw three minke whales, lots of porpoise and seals but our focus was on birds.   Look for more photos and an in depth description of our trip on Nick's Quoddy Link Bird Blog 

Here are a few photos that I took yesterday

A raft of eider ducks, there were more here, all I could get in 

Black guillemots in their winter plumage 

Bonaparte's gull

Bonaparte's gull showing characteristic white leading edge of the wing 

On the other trip we did yesterday we did was a chartered trip with a group of international students. We spent time off Spruce Island in Head Harbour Passage with a minke whale and we also saw lots of porpoise and both harbour and grey seals.

One harbour porpoise, the one on the bottom is a reflection 

Check out the characteristic surfacing of the minke whale!

minke

Now for an update on the Quoddy Link herself, we have a mechanic coming down tomorrow (with the parts) and hopefully the boat will be up and running with TWO engines by tomorrow or Tuesday at the very latest!

Thanks you everyone for checking in and thanks to everyone for your patience over the last week with our boat troubles,

Cheers,
Danielle