Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great Shearwaters Start to Move

The satellite tagged greater shearwaters in the South Atlantic are starting to begin their migration to the North Atlantic after spending time off Argentina preparing themselves for the long trip. Several birds are now off Brazil.

The northward migration of the greater shearwaters have never been tracked by satellite and it will be interesting to see the route, just as it was the first season our researcher, Rob Ronconi, placed the first satellite transmitters on shearwaters in 2006. Tracks for the three years of tracking greater shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy and their southward migration can be found at:


In 2007, two sooty shearwaters were tracked:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Strangely Located Callosities

Right whale #3760 with back and side callosities
in addition to the callosities on the head

Right whales are known for their callosities on their face where facial hair is often found, eyebrows, mustache and chin whiskers and these are used to identify individuals. However, a right whale calf was born in 2007 with additional callosities on its back and right side, #3760, the calf of Derecha, #2360. First seen on June 2, 2007 as a tiny calf in the Great South Channel off Cape Cod, this calf hadn't been seen in the calving area off Florida and Georgia in the winter and is thought to have been a late birth.
Derecha is an unusual mother and seems to want to head south when she has a calf. In 2004 after being seen off Florida she was spotted off Texas in the Gulf of Mexico! She eventually turned around and was spotted in the Bay of Fundy in September. In 2007 after being spotted off Cape Cod with her tiny calf, the next sighting was in Florida on July 17! She turned up in the Bay of Fundy, again in September with her unusual calf. #3760 spent time in the Bay of Fundy last September (2009) when the photographs above were taken.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Antarctic Bound

One of our senior scientists, Dr. Andrew Westgate, is heading to the Antarctic as part of a team of scientists from the Duke Marine Lab. The expedition will take six weeks and a blog will be updated regularly.

Here is Andrew's email:

Hello family and friends!

Here is a link to a website that Duke has set up to document our upcoming Antarctic field trip. Postings are still up from the 2009 field season, but you can expect new updates soon. You can also see where the ship is on the map.


The southern hemisphere has been a popular spot for our researchers in the last year. Dr. Rob Ronconi, another of our senior scientists, spent three and a half months in the South Atlantic on Gough and Inaccessible Islands from September to December 2009 where he helped attach 22 satellite tags to greater shearwaters, among other research. Seventeen tags are still operational and we are waiting to see when the birds start their northward migration.

Rob is currently an observer on a research cruise on the vessel, CCGS Hudson,, on the Laurentian Fan off Nova Scotia and spotted a raft of sooty shearwaters that have already made it back to the North Atlantic from their southern breeding islands in the South Atlantic.

The movements of the greater shearwaters can be followed on the Sea Turtle website: