Why sperm whales are bad news

Well, for us anyway. And squid. And Captain Ahab.

We just had our first two days out in the Bay for the 2014 season, and while we saw many species, we only saw 3 or 4 right whales. None of which were a mom/calf pair. The other two teams had similar luck, with a combined total of less than 10 right whales between all three of us over a two day span. We surveyed pretty much everywhere we could in the Bay too so it seems, for the moment at least, the right whales have left the party. That isn’t to say they won’t come back of course, but the sperm whales have moved in…cue creepy music.

Why is that so bad? Sperm whales are cool, right?? Well sure, but here in the Bay of Fundy it means that things are changing. Up until just a few years ago, only a single sperm whale had been documented here since 1980. And it was just a few years ago that we started to have such a drop in right whales sightings here in the Bay. It isn’t that the sperm whales are driving the right whales away, but they definitely do seem to move in as the right whales move out.┬áSince these guys eat squid, not copepods like right whales, our scientist colleagues think it likely indicates a shift in the entire food chain, and not mere coincidence. Eek.

Anyway, I still haven’t actually had the opportunity to ever SEE a sperm whale, so I am still hoping to get that chance this year. Bad news or not, they really are pretty neat. I imagine seeing one will obviously go something like this:

Insert big orange safeboat instead of wooden boat...

Insert big orange safeboat instead of wooden boat…

Species list for the first two days out: right whales, fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoise, basking sharks, ocean sunfish, grey seals, one bald eagle, puffins, and countless other seabirds that I am lumping together for lack of any solid personal interest…

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