Beaked Whale Research Aboard Song Of The Whale
Our time on Song of the Whale is at an end, and we haven't written anything for days! The last few days have been very exciting - from seeing more beaked whales to our passage back to Tenerife. On Friday we were very close to 3 beaked whales and got some more wonderful photos. The Spanish team managed to tag the whales with a non-invasive acoustic tag, but the suction cups didn't stick. We also saw several more dolphins - including bottlenose and spotted. When we got back to shore, the whole town was gathered to see a fisherman bring up his huge marlin that was almost 10 feet long and 160 kilos!
On Saturday we got up early again to do acoustic monitoring, and in
the evening we got to see a local health center since Mayumi was not
feeling well and had to get some heavy-duty antibiotics (through a very
painful shot!) to treat a bad infection that she had developed. When
the Cuban doctor said that the shot was going to hurt (he called it
training for childbirth!) he wasn't joking. On Sunday, Mayumi
recovered while the Spanish team took some water samples from the Song
of the Whale, and Beth and Nienke had some time to see the island.
Luckily there was an annual agricultural festival in the small town of
San Andreas, and everyone brought their animals to be judged. There
were also lots of crafts and local foods, and just about everyone on El
Hierro was there. The Song of the Whale came back to port and we had
an open day that evening. Mayumi was feeling much better and lead
several groups though the boat, telling them about our work in El
Hierro and a little about IFAW. More than 50 people came to see SOTW
- many of them fishermen and people from the fishing port of La
Restinga who had been curious for weeks about what we were doing. One
of the locals told us that we were very lucky to have such a great
turnout! Everyone was really interested in IFAW's work, and many shared
information about whales they had seen while fishing though the years.
On Monday, our time in El Hierro was over. We spent some time
getting the boat ready to sail, and left for Tenerife at around 3 pm.
After an exciting (and slightly sickening) 24-hour passage - with the
wind and currant against us - we arrived at the Port of Santa Cruz.
During the sail, we all had night watches, and at times we were
accompanied by dolphins under the stars. There were even times when the
cockpit and everyone in the cockpit would get soaked with waves! Once
we got into port, we were all very excited to take long, hot showers on
land, without having to work to keep our balance. When we were finished
our dock was closed because a boat was filled with gas and the police
were afraid it would explode. We got a motor boat ride back to the
Song of the Whale, and the other boat was fine in the end.
Wednesday and Thursday were housekeeping days, Beth and Nienke and a
new Spanish volunteer, Yara, bought groceries for 10 people for 15 days
- that's a lot of food! Mayumi and Magnus went looking for boat
parts. We did laundry and made sure the bat was ready to be out at sea
for the next 2 weeks. Now we are packing up our stuff and getting
ready to go to the airport and start our journey back home. It has
been a wonderful experience and we have such respect for the Song of
the Whale team who work so hard to to research whale populations and
behaviour in order to protect them. We are ready to take what we have
learned and apply it to our work on Navy sonar, the International
Whaling Commission, the North Atlantic right whale, along with our