Endangered Right Whale populations rebound

Right whale #1612 and her calf 30 miles east of Wassaw Island on February 24.  The calf was hit by a boat between January 21 and January 29, probably offshore of northeast Florida.  The scars are consistent with an outboard engine propeller like those found on many recreational boats.  Boaters should keep a sharp watch for whales and reduce their speeds when traveling within 30 miles of the Southeast U.S. coastline from November 15 to April 15.  Photo by Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NMFS permit #15488.

North Atlantic right whale and calf (Photo Courtesy of Savannah Morning News)

Among the most popular whales sighted by those who go on the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company’s whale watching cruises or just happen to see whales during their time on the Islands, endangered right whale births have rebounded this year. While this news comes to us courtesy of the Savannah, Georgia newspaper Savannah Morning News, it bodes well for summer whale watching off the Maine and New Hampshire coasts. Right whales migrate to higher latitudes during spring and summer.

From the newspaper:

For a North Atlantic right whale named Foster it was a momentous winter in the waters off the Georgia and Florida coasts. Not only did Foster give birth here, but so did her daughter. That made Foster one of a pair of new grandmothers among the 20 North Atlantic right whales that calved this winter.

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Big, fun news from the Shoals Marine Lab


Great black-backed gull on Appledore Island (Photo courtesy of Shoals Marine Laboratory)

BIG (and fun!) NEWS! A Great Black-backed gull that was banded as a chick (by one of Julie Ellis’s gull research team) on Appledore in July of 2011 was spotted in Ithaca, NY!! Image is thanks to Kevin McGowan (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology).

Taken from the Shoals Marine Lab Facebook page. Visit their Web site here.

John W. Downs on his life at the Isles

The much beloved author John M. Downs published his account of the Isles of Shoals in 1944 after a lifetime living among the people who took part in the fishing, hotel and contemporary communities. He summarizes his need to write his own story this way:

Many stories have been written about the Isles of Shoals. Mine is to be a series of recollections–“Sprays of Salt.” I played on the rocks, a unrealizing child, as the poets and artists worked talents about me. The ocean they praised and painted was the ocean I owned and for seventy years this ocean owned me (Preface).

Down’s account of his life – told in vignettes – represents one of the most honest and clear view of the Isles. It’s one in which he quotes directly from numerous other sources. He writes:

The Isles are absolutely just rocks planted bleakly by some of nature’s craftmanship in the midst of a section of the ocean vaulted over by an everchanging sky and completely surrounded by the blue, green, temperamental waves which at times lapped the shores in listing submission and at others would dash thundering against the shores in a revolutionary tumult” (12).

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How do whales breath in Antarctica?


(Photo by Peter Kimball, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


This picture comes to us courtesy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s “Picture of the Day.” Entitled “A Whale Rises” this photo comes from a 2012 research cruise in Antarctica where WHOI postdoctoral scientist Peter Kimball helped use the robotic vehicle Jaguar to map the underside of the ice.

But the trip was memorable for more than just its success in a harsh environment:

“We were stuck in heavy pack ice for nearly two weeks,” recalls Kimball. “We couldn’t see any open water around the ship, and the ice was just too thick for the ship to break. While we were stuck, this magnificent minke whale broke through a few centimeters of ice in a small lead and was breathing at the hole, right near our ship, for an entire day.”

Find more incredible photos from Woods Hole Oceanographic Researchers at http://www.whoi.edu/imageOfDay.do.