Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | April 2, 2010

Successful cross bearing

We went out in 3 dinghies and bringing with us 2 sets of ‘false ears’ in order to try to verify the position of singing bowhead whales. Our divers, Jonas and Martin, were dressed in diving suits (inclusive extra home made boots made of camping mattresses to keep their feet warm!) ready to try out their underwater camera equipment. Shortly after arriving at the southern side of Fortunabay several whales popped up. A strong incentive to aim , shoot and get the first biopsy came up but we resisted and rigged up the listening gear instead. Soon a singing whale was heard!. The sound was strong and with the help of both ‘false ears’ indicated a cross of bearing around 2 km south west. Aningaaq and Camilla went to the indicated position. The whale stopped singing and came up nicely within 200 m of the position. The whale swam closely pass the boat and a biopsy, ID pictures and video clips were taken without any need to speed up the dinghy. After a nice and well deserved lunch break, Outi could hear more singing whales and after while a pair of bowheads surfaced again in front of Camilla’s and Aningaaq’s dinghy and the second biopsy was taken from one of the two individuals. One dinghy served both as dive boat and as a listening base and in between the listeing and recording, the divers got their first underwater shots of a bowhead swimming slowly away from the boat.

A pair of bowheads. Photo: C. Ilmoni

Suddenly several outboards crossed the area and the whales got silent. Sunshine between steel gray clouds created a beautiful light on the ice and sea.. Tea ,coffee and biscuits helped to pass the time while waiting for the whales at a perfectly calm sea. Late in the afternoon the whales started to vocalize again. This time we could hear them closer to Qeqertarsuaq but they were moving further off shore and it was too late to follow. We headed back home.

Some of the bowheads have a lot of white pigmentation on their body and flukes. Photo: C. Ilmoni


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