Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Our 2006 Season...

Hello there, it's Danielle with Quoddy Link Marine. Well, our 2006 season has officially come to a close. I just wanted to give you a little summary of this very special season.

We started whale watching officially on the 24th of June, and were greated with thick and persistent Fundy Fog! We had our first minke whale sighting on June 19th, on a chartered trip, off the northern tip of Campobello Island at the entrance to Head Harbour Passage. The rest of June and the beginning of July continued with frustrating weather and scarce whale sightings but on July 4th our first finback whale was spotted off White Horse Island. With some offshore fog we continued to watch finback whales off Bliss and Pea Point Light. On a search around the Wolves on July 9th we were delighted to see our first humpback whale, Cork, a 4-year old female humpback we also saw in 2004. With some frustrating fog towards the end of July we were confined close to shore but the finback whale sightings were fantastic and we were able to see Cork every few days when we got a little break in the fog. But on July 31st we were very happy to see 2 new humpbacks, Hobo and Parachute, both familiar whales to Quoddy Link.

On August 4th we had our first North Atlantic Right Whale trip of the season. We usually do a few right whale trips each year that take us about 35-40 miles from St. Andrews out into the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. The trip was very successful with many whales sighted. The North Atlantic Right Whale is incredibly rare with an estimated population of about 300-350, so to have the opportunity to spend some time watching them is such a priveledge. August continued with sightings of finbacks and Parachute, Cork and Hobo and then on August 17th off the eastern end of Eastern Wolf were we ever in for a surprise, 5 humpbacks within a 1 mile radius, a rare treat for us. The humpbacks were ID'd as Hobo, Parachute, Repeat, and 2 unknowns (still yet to be matched to whales in the Gulf of Maine Catalogue). And on August 22nd 3 new humpbacks showed up in the same area; Godzilla, Sonogram (2-year old female) and Quarternote (5-year old male).

We had a few very special trips in August and one was on our evening trip on August 23rd. We could see a whale breaching about 3 miles away and when we arrived we found Sonogram, a 2-year old female humpback breaching and rolling over, slapping her long, white pectoral flippers on the surface, and lob tailing. This behaviour continued for over an hour and was still going on when when had to start making our way back to St. Andrews. And on August 27th, on our last scheduled evening trip we had one of the most amazing trips I've had in 5 years. We were treated to an incredibly close encounter by both Parachute and Quarternote, with both whales circling us, spyhopping very close to the boat, and not leaving our side for over 30 minutes. It was incredible.

September began and continued with great whale sightings of finbacks, humpbacks and minkes. On September 11th we had our last official finback whale sighting of the season, which is unusual for us but these incredibly large whales must have found a better food supply elsewhere as our numbers for finbacks were low for the entire season. On September 13th I was delighted to spot a new humpback, one that we watched for the remainder of the season and one that can not be matched to any humpback in the Gulf of Maine catalogue. All of our unknowns will be named at the Gulf of Maine Humpback Naming Conference in April of 2007. On September 17th we had our 2nd special North Atlantic Right Whale trip and, as in the case of the first trip, it was incredibly successful with over 15 whales sighted including 2 mom and calf pairs. The rest of September was filled with many amazing autumn trips and great humpback sightings.

The beginning of October was no different, great weather, especially for the fall, and great humpback sightings. Almost every day we were either in the Grand Manan Channel or off Southern Wolf with humpbacks. On October 6th we were very surprised to see a North Atlantic Right Whale in our area, but in the fall, during some seasons, we definitely see right whales in our part of the Bay of Fundy. On October 13th, 14th and 15th we saw atleast 3 right whales on each trip, all in the Grand Manan Channel. Our trip on October 14th was a fundraising trip to help the fight to stop LNG terminals and tankards from entering Passamaquoddy Bay. The trip was incredibly successful and we were able to show our passengers a right whale, in the proposed area where the tankards would be traveling. Thanks to all who came out and supported the cause. We did a whale survey of our area on October 17th and found Cork and 5 right whales! On our way out we had 1 right whale directly off East Quoddy Head Light on the northern tip of Campobello Island and about 2 hours later we had a small SAG (surface active group) of 3 individuals about 1/2 mile SE of East Quoddy Head Light. I have been providing this data to the right people to help with the fight against LNG.

Our humpback sightings this year included:

- Cork (4-year old female)
- Godzilla (first seen in 2002, never recorded as a calf)
- Hobo (first seen in 2002, never recorded as a calf)
- Parachute (I first photographed in 2003, never recorded as a calf)
- Quarternote (5-year old male)
- Repeat (first seen in 2004 of MA)
- Sonogram (2-year old female)
- 3 unknowns

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who joined us during our 2006 season onboard the Quoddy Link. For me, to be able to show our passengers whales and share in the experience is an absolute priveledge. Our guests is why we do what we do, why we go those extra miles to show you humpbacks, so thank you to all who came along for the ride. Come back and see us in 2007 and experience everything the Bay of Fundy has to offer.......Catamaran Style!

Below are just a few of my favorite pictures from the 2006 season, thanks to all who read my blog!

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at danielle.m.dion@hotmail.com

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