Friday, November 26, 2010

Fin whales at our six o'clock, surfing the wake?

Well folks the weather today was slop and chop! We have two days left until we pull into Ford Island, Honolulu for some R&R. Most of the other researchers will be working the transit back to San Diego, but I will be staying in Hawaii for another week of vacation. Our one and only sighting today was pretty memorable! A pair of fin whales (note: fin whales aren't really supposed to be here - they are exceedingly rare in this part of the world)! We were sure they were just going to make an appearance and run away, but to our glee, they stayed and circumnavigated our ship about 5 times. Each time we lost them, they would surface just behind the ship, literally 5 meters from the fan-tail. We would slow down and they would pass us at a safe distance, then we would speed up and they would dive, only to surface again body-surfing the ship's wake. It made for good photos, but they never came close enough for a biopsy opportunity. It would have been interesting to sequences these guys to see if they are the western Pacific population or the Eastern pacific, or a whole new population. My guess? They looked Russian to me.

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