The Cape Cod field season is different from other field seasons because of one important fact: there is no field station. That is, the team and all of our equipment are spread out in several places, making everything a bit more challenging. This year I am staying in Syracuse and only driving up to Cape Cod when we have a weather window. As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is often very difficult to predict when the weather will cooperate…that being said, when Grace called on Saturday and said “tomorrow and Monday look good”, I wasn’t too surprised at the short notice. Unfortunately it was too late to get there in time for Sunday’s boat day but I could easily manage getting there for Monday. Susan couldn’t make it, but luckily Leanna and Jess were able to rework their busy schedules and join me. So Sunday came and we departed for what Jess called “a whirlwind tour of Cape Cod” 🙂
Sunday, being the first day out this season, ended up being more of a dry run which was alright since there weren’t any mom/calves sighted and Leanna, Jess, and I weren’t there yet anyway. Come Monday though we were ready and headed out early in hopes of better luck. We quickly found several subsurface feeding right whales and took some time to take photographs. The afternoon rolled around and neither us nor the plane had found any mom/calves yet. We were all beginning to wonder if all of the moms had taken their calves and left the Bay already…that would definitely put a damper on our data collection this season! We finally got our call over the radio around 1500 hrs: two mom/calf pairs! Phew. They were both pairs we had seen and recorded with in the southeast which was even better. After unsuccessful attempts to biopsy one of the moms, we decided to follow the other pair for our data collection.
All in all we had a great day. We collected all the data there was to collect (other than tag data obviously since we did not tag) and got to see 15+ right whales subsurface feeding throughout the day. Not a bad Monday, not bad at all.
Jess and Leanna headed back to Syracuse very early the next day (early as in 0400 early) to make it to class that day (such good students), but I was able to stay a little later and get all the data organized before heading back to the ‘Cuse. Now we wait for the word and our next whirlwind Cape Cod adventure!