Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | January 7, 2012

The first bowhead whales heard!

Today was another fantastic day with dead calm sea and red southern sky. In just 5 days the sun will reappear above the horizon after a month of darkness. Mads has fixed the snow scooter – that and the fact that there was a decent track all the way to Qaqqaliaq, saved us from a walk and made it possible to be on the cliffs in no time.

Mads at Qaqqaliaq enjoying the view and looking for life out on the sea

We chose our office No. 2 on the western side of Qaqqaliaq and after watching countless eider ducks flying by, slipped the hydrophone into the water.  Already on our way we passed by many hunters with snowscooters that were attending to their boats far out on the ice. Saqqaq and Qaqqaliaq harbours are both packed with ice so hunters are moving their boats further and further out to sea to be close to the ice edge. Despite the vast amount of ice right out side Qeqertarsuaq there were plenty of hunters out on the sea and now when the short ‘day’ was ending we could hear a constant stream of boats returning home. First after it got really dark the sea became silent enough for us to listen. And we were rewarded! Shortly after we could hear the first faint and distant moans of bowhead whales. This is the first time this season that we hear bowhead whales and the earliest date so far (since 2005) that we have an acoustic observation of bowhead whales from Disko.

Arrival of bowhead whales in Disko Bay in historic (yellow, based on visual observations) and modern times (blue, based on acoustic observations). Notice the blue spike on the 7th of January that marks the appearance of whales in the Bay in 2012.