Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | March 19, 2010

Success at sea

On Wednesday, the weather and whale conditions looked very promising! The sea was flat and we had heard from hunters that a few bowheads had been close to Qeqertarsuaq the day before. So we headed out with our hopes up, Outi and Aningaaq in one dingy and Camilla and Mads in another, with R/V Porsild sailing ahead of us.

Bowhead surfacing close to our dingy. Photo: C. Ilmoni

We did not have to drive far before we had our first bowhead sighting only ca 30 minutes away from town. Outi deployed the hydrophones and after a while she could distinguish three bowheads singing in the area. Now our challenge was to use the two hydrophones, the ‘false ears’, to get the direction of one of the singers in order for Camilla and Mads to drive in that direction and to get a biopsy and photo-ID pictures of the singer.

Aningaaq trying to get a biopsy. Photo: C. Ilmoni

We worked for a couple of hours and had many good situations and attempts where the sound was clear and it was easy to get direction of the singer but unfortunately the bowheads surfaced too far away for Camilla and Mads to reach them. Porsild was also parked close by and the crew was very helpful in keeping an eye out for whales.

R/V Porsild and bowhead whale. Photo: C. Ilmoni

After trying for two hours our patience was finally rewarded! One whale was singing close by and everybody was in the right position at the right time and waiting. The whale surfaced after diving for ca 20 minutes and Mads managed to get a biopsy and Camilla got plenty of photo-ID images. We headed for a well deserved break on Porsild and decided to try a few more times after lunch.

Bowhead whale. Photo: C. Ilmoni

The BBC team was also out at sea and they joined us in the afternoon. They filmed our work and also interviewed Outi about her project. We could still hear bowheads singing in the area however, this time and bit further away, and unfortunately we could not get a visual sighting of the singers anymore.

Outi is happy! Photo: C. Ilmoni

But all in all, it was a very successful day and we headed home after almost 10 hours at sea, happy but tired.

Driving home in the sunset. Photo: C. Ilmoni


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