First Day of Western Gray Whale Observations

Post by Grisha Tsidulko, IFAW, Russia Office

The weather allowed us to conduct our first observations today. Four scans of the study area were done during the day. The maximum number of whales in any given scan on this day was three, which is normal for this time of the year. The first whales tend to arrive as soon as ice goes away, and their numbers grow from June towards mid-late July. Moms with calves come amongst the latest, as the calves travel speed is much lower than that of an adult whale.

To properly collect data the team had to visit the sand spit that separates the lagoon from the sea of Okhotsk, and collect bearings from the lighthouse to specific landmarks. This is because the lighthouse is metal, which precludes accurate compass readings. Knowing the distance and bearing to the whales allows data collection on their distribution. The same methodology has been used since 1997, which allows data comparison over the years.

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