Western Gray Whale Research Log: A New Calf Is Spotted!

A map of reference points for use in locating whales from the lighthouse basecamp.

After the first working day, the weather turned bad, and continued with the fog and wind for a week.

However, we had lots of work to do.

First of all, we entered the data that we collected during the first working day into our western gray whale database. Then, we mapped out reference points on a spit in order to locate whales from the lighthouse basecamp.

Also, we conducted safety training in the lagoon that included trying out our survival suits in the water, flipping over of the boat, rescuing drowning men, and testing the backup boat.

On 7th July, the weather improved and we went out to the sea.

We decided to go south of the mouth of the lagoon, and in just 1.5 km we sighted a mother-calf pair.

They were avoiding the boat, and we could not approach them close enough, however, we managed to photograph both female and her calf.

A new western gray whale calf is spotted!

The mother was known previously as Susan. We were very excited as we have never seen her with the calf before.

After unsuccessful attempts of taking a biopsy (genetic sample of a tissue) from the calf, we continued our way south.

Ten kilometers away, we sighted another five whales that have been identified in Piltun area in previous years.

The wind picked up, and we decided to turn back home, where the rest of our team prepared a delicious dinner and fresh-baked bread.

-- LA

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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