Latest News From the Song of the Whale - 6.18.07

Song of the Whale. a global ambassador for IFAW's whale conservation campaigns, is a state of-the-art education and research vessel. Designed to provide a flexible working platform for whale research, public education and advocacy, the Song of the Whale team carries out studies of threatened and endangered marine mammals and their habitats, educates students, trains scientists and develops and disseminates non-invasive research techniques around the world.

This digest of recent Song of the Whale activity was written by various crew memebers...

Friday 8th June 2007
Night time again brings adventure. When trying to restart the engine after a check, a mechanical failure means that we need to spend some time mending it. But after our new engineer Matt spends time in the engine room we are ready to go again. A single sighting at daybreak of a single striped dolphin is all that we have but the wind is in our favour and we sail on in good time towards Rhodes to arrive at 21.00 hours. One of our interns for the next leg – Joe from the Maltese NGO BICREF is there to meet us at Kolona Harbour in Rhodes. We will spend the next few days in port changing crew and working on the boat.

Tuesday 12th June 2007
(Written by Evelyn)

This morning we leave Rhodes to start the third leg of our survey. We have a full crew of ten people. Joining us on this leg are Andrew from IFAW's London office, Geraldine from Belgium, Joe from Malta and Hildur from Iceland. It’s a fine breezy day so we get the sails up straight away and head east towards the Turkish coast. Once again we do some distance estimation training on our way to the start of the trackline. Soon the hydrophones are deployed in to the roiling waters and we record our first sighting of two bottlenose dolphins. Overnight, sperm whale clicks are logged on the hydrophone.  We also had a little drama during the night when we accidentally got entangled in some fishing gear. The net from a fishing boat became caught underneath our hull. The sails had to be taken in and the hydrophones retrieved while the crew struggled to disentangle the net. Magnus and Mat heroically entered the water to make sure there was no net around the propeller. Once we were safely free of the net and other fishing boats near the coast, the hydrophones were redeployed and normal survey resumed.

Wednesday 13th June 2007
(Written by Olly)

Risso’s dolphins: Their scientific name, Grampus griseus, essentially means ‘big grizzled fish’ and as we gazed off the bow into the milky blue water below it was easy to understand why. At almost 4m (12 feet) in length, these box-headed squid-munchers are covered from beak to fluke with an elaborate mosaic of white scars. Acquired from their prey, or more often than not, their own family members, these rakes and wealds glow turquoise when seen through the water.  Although normally boat-shy, the dozen individuals in the group circled the boat, weaving and pinwheeling on all sides. Despite having the appearance of battered jalopies, we all agreed our escorts were beautiful specimens, and eventually left them to their business. A few hours later, Hildur spied a small group of beaked whales at the water surface just before sunset. Unfortunately we could not identify the species before the group dispersed, although they were most likely Cuvier’s beaked whales. As darkness closed in, we resigned ourselves to the fact we were unlikely to spot them again today and headed on down the trackline.

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