Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Participate in Actual Whale Research - Newfoundland/Labrador

Our Whale Study Week is a great opportunity to participate in actual whale research.

Your experience will start with an introduction to the ocean and the whales during a 2.5 hour trip on the Atlantic Whaler. We also view puffins and hundreds of thousands of other seabirds. We review the marine ecology of the North Atlantic (get our sea legs) and prepare for our onboard assistance to local whale census and acoustic research. We also travel to the eastern edge of the continent to do more whale watching.

We spend six hours on board our coast guard certified vessel looking at whales. Humpbacks and minkes are the most common whale species but dolphins and fin whales are also occasionally seen. In fact, 20 varieties of whales are reported from Newfoundland waters so you can expect an occasional surprise. We will focus on tail fluke photography, individual whale recognition, behavioral observations, feeding ecology and just enjoying the sights. We have also been involved with hydrophone development research and may try to listen in on humpback feeding sounds together with any vocalizations associated with their other behaviours.

On we go whale watching from the land as we try to take in some of the range of the world's largest population of humpbacks. A caribou herd, moose habitat, a humpback-feeding beach and seals usually add to the day's sightings. Scenic photographers will enjoy the coastline and the lighthouses should they want to see more than just the whales. Bird lovers will enjoy the small seabird colonies near our whale study lookouts. This day is sometimes the holiday highlight as we enjoy up-close encounters with the humpbacks as they cruise their feeding beach.

Humpback tails are as distinctive as human faces or fingerprints; and we use this six hours on the water attempting to get scientifically useful tail shots that allow us to identify individual whales and mother calf pairs. This provides insight into their range and life history. You'll learn how we contribute to the worldwide study of both humpbacks and orcas. If the science doesn't excite you just sit back and enjoy the gentle antics of the whales and the other wildlife of the North Atlantic.
Whale Research

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