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brenda rone  

The North Pacific Right Whale Research Cruise scheduled for the month of August in the Gulf of Alaska is designed to locate, photograph, and hopefully satellite-tag a critically endangered North Pacific right whale. This cruise represents one leg in a four-month Collaborative Large Whale Survey that is being conducted along the west coast by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center aboard the NOAA Fisheries research vessel Reuben Lasker. Brenda Rone (pictured left) is NOAA Fisheries affiliate and chief scientist on the cruise.

August 17, 2015

Hello All.  Yesterday, we spent the day in Barnabas Trough searching for another calling right whale.  We had a few clear up calls and gunshot calls, but just like the previous time on August 10th, they were scattered throughout the day. We were able to obtain a crossfix position (latitude and longitude) from the calls so we expanded our search around the area, but we were unable to locate the animal.

People were so eager to find one, the entire visual and some of the acoustics crew were up on the flying bridge while the ship's officers and crew worked on the bridge to help spot and identify animals until we couldn't see anymore. No additional calls have been detected since last night. Despite not finding an animal either time, it is important to note that we now have two separate acoustic detections of an animal(s) in Barnabas Trough.

On a sad note, we located a dead subadult humpback whale in the same area.  Given the condition of the animal, it may not be possible to determine the cause of death, but we did take photographs for future study.

Winds and rain appeared during the night and we are in the middle of a nasty weather system. We are currently limited in our ability to work. We are headed toward the mouth of Ugak Bay while standing watch on the bridge and monitoring sonobuoys (a relatively small expendable sonar system that is dropped from a research ship to conduct underwater acoustic surveys). We will deploy sonobouys at a location that will allow us to continue acoustic monitoring for part of the day while we wait out the storm. The plan is to continue up the inshore stratum as soon as the weather breaks, likely tomorrow.


Read more about this important cruise. Listen to a recording of a right whale call. Check out some photos! Check back here for updates on what Brenda and our other scientists see while on the cruise.


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