Spotlight Russia: Western Grey Whale expedition sees a right whale

This post was filed from the field by the International Fund for Animal Welfare Western Grey Whale Research team collectively. - MV

Tough weather kept the team onshore for a bit.Because of the unfavorable weather last time, we had only one survey-opportunity and only for a half of the day.

But, like you will find out further, this time gave us much more, then we could only imagine.

Fresh morning air didn’t have even a hint of a wind or a fog.

But sill, looking up at the sky, woke up the feeling to shiver and to hide back inside the sleeping bag.

It seemed, like Mother Nature wasn’t sure if she wanted to play dirty with these little researchers, who wanted to penetrate the secrets of her behavior and relationships of whales or to forget about them with their strange but harmless business.

Sometimes the visibility isn’t good enough, and whales seem to be closer to each other.

That’s why it isn’t easy to identify their number.

The same situation we had during the last survey.

Except single whales, the observers from the lighthouse saw two fountains, appearing at the same time on a very close distance to each other.

The people in the boat were told that there were many whales on their course.

The boat was moving further and soon we saw an amazing picture: there was a double fountain, flying up from the water.

The right whale.When we got closer, we identified, that it was a right whale.

A representative of this species of baleen whales had not been seen until this moment in the area.

The right whales are much bigger, than grey whales.

But this individual of the right whale looked wasted and not much bigger as grey whales.

But this whale was in a group of grey whales and demonstrated social behavior. The detailed pictures were taken and video was filmed, what helped us to expose its unique identification signs.

At the same time the roughness of the sea was already high, about 3 according to the Beaufort’s scale, what made our work impossible. 

No matter how hard we wanted to stay, we had to come back.

All the following days the weather didn’t give us any chance for a survey, but the excitement of the meeting the new species of whales didn’t leave us. We hope you will get this wonderful feeling too.

With gladness and surprise,

The IFAW WGW expedition. 

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation