Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | March 4, 2010

Quiet start of the field season

Lately, we've had strong winds and lots of snow here in Qeqertarsuaq! Photo: C. Ilmoni

After numerous recording sessions since mid January, we have ONLY heard the bowhead whales once, and that was at a location 40 km west from here. It is unusual, at least in comparison with the past 5 winters here in Disko Bay that I have listened to the bowheads, that the whales are absent in our recordings we make from our usual spot Qaqqaliaq at the south end of the town Qeqertarsuaq. The sea is actually extremely quiet right now – sea ice has not formed due to the very warm winter we have had and therefore is not squealing and howling away in our recordings and the other major sound source, the bearded seals, have not started to sing yet either. Icebergs are around of course and they overload the recordings with regular interval with their massive explosion kind of sounds. The other day we were also lucky enough to catch some faint whistles and echolocation buzzes from either belugas or narwhals. The both species are around here at this time of the year and are extremely difficult, if not possible, to tell apart from their vocalisations.

But there is hope! Tarfi and Steen (our local hunters) had seen bowheads last Saturday off Qeqertaq in Disko Fjord and our captain Fari also told about an observation closer to here in Laksebugt only 10 km away. This is the main singing season for bowhead whales so if they have not changed their behaviour dramatically, we should start hearing them soon from our field office on the cliffs of Qaqqaliaq.


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