A Day with the Whales
Post by Josey Sharrad, IFAW Campaigner, UK
I felt truly privileged as I stood on the pier at dawn and stepped onto NOAA's AUK.
We set off into the ocean as the sun rose across dead calm waters, and spotted a whale in the distance soon after departing. This was followed by a series of exciting sightings of numerous minkes and humpbacks. At one time we were almost encircled by a few groups including a couple of mothers with their calves. We called to the Nancy Foster, our 'mother ship,' to alert the crew and scientists on board of our sightings. Sod’s law, as soon as Nancy Foster approached, the whales disappeared from the radar. But they soon reappeared and a mother and calf were identified as good candidates for tagging.
We dispatched two smaller boats with taggers on board and long tagging poles attached to the side--longer than the boat themselves. They set off in the direction of the whales and we followed. The sun was shining and the visibility was good but we quickly found ourselves in a heavy fog and the temperature dropped dramatically. We were soon finding it difficult to see the tagging vessels so we had to call it a day and the crew jumped aboard the AUK.
While this was disappointing I still felt incredibly lucky and privileged to have been a part of such an exciting and important research project, and to witness first hand so many of these beautiful, peaceful creatures who moved slowly and gracefully but noisily through the ocean. And to get to talk to the scientists and crew who were leading the project. Thank you for making us feel so welcome and for introducing to us to many species of whales--not to mention donuts!