Western Gray Whale Research: The Mid-Point

A western gray whale spouting off near Sakhalin Island, Russia.

In terms of the weather conditions, August is considered to be the best month for conducting photo-identification on gray whales off Sakhalin Island, and July is usually famous by fogs and rains.

This year, we were lucky with the weather in July, and had more working days than usually. After our last blog, we went out to the sea three times; we sighted two more females with calves, both of them were known as mothers from previous years.

A half of our research season on Sakhalin is gone, and we are pleased with the information we already collected. We photographed and identified a total of 65 individual gray whales, including 8 mother-calf pairs.

However, a good weather in Piltun does not last too long. On 28th July, we were working with a mother-calf pair 10 km south of Lighthouse, when the northern wind suddenly picked up and we had to turn back. High sea state with the swells up to 3 meters made our way back home very rough. In such stormy weather, it took for us two hours to get back.

In the evening, wind increased even more, fog came in and we realized that it will continue for a few days. On the next day, we discussed the weather, necessity of food resupply (as we were running out of all food that we purchased for the part of the season), and possibility to drive to Nogliki - small town about 3.5 hrs drive from our research camp, where we usually purchase our food.

At first, we thought it would be an easy deal for us, but after contacting a few local drivers, we found only one solution to make a trip to Nogliki on 5th August.

Till that, we will tighten our belts, and hope for a better weather. See you soon.

-- Lena and the International Fund for Animal Welfare Western Gray Whale Piltun Team:

Dolgova Evgeniya,
Sidorenko Maksim,
Sychenko Olga,
Vorob'ev Vitalii,
Fedin Dmitrii,
Sereda Aleksei

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation