Dire Straits - Observations from Canada to France - The St Lawrence to St Pierre & Miquelon - Fr and NFLD
Life continued aboard ship, as it always does, chipping of rusty paint, replaced by a fresh coat, captain Dany and first mate Guy exchanging watches, Jerome-the boson- seemingly everywhere, kept the deck hands on the move, adjusting a sail, a lashing, making certain the 51m Sedna IV ran as she should in all manner of weather. Below decks the film crew waited for the call of a whale sighting anything that would galvanize them into action to film researchers at work and whale behavior. But no sighting call rang out and they tended their camera or sound equipment. The cook kept his balance in the ship's roll, baked large quantities of wonderful bread and prepared meals for all. The engineer reported what was needed to the captain and on the days went on waltzing to the swell or waves.
The evening of the 12th we anchored in the welcome lee of Miquelon Island in French waters and waited for the wind to abate. The morning of the 13th brought sun and promise of a diminishing wind. We headed to St Pierre and found 5-9 fin whales within 5 miles of shore, but no blues. We had received reports of numerous whales further south offshore, from a local marine mammal observer Joel Detcheverry, who had shared blue whale and humpback observations with us over the previous years. By early afternoon we had found several large groups of humpback whales and estimated 40-50 in the area south of St Pierre within French waters. We spent the day taking Id images of what turned out to be more than 50 humpback whales, though none were whales known to us in the St Lawrence. We spent the 15th with these humpbacks making certain we had good quality IDs of most individuals in the sector and enjoyed calm weather throughout.
The 16th we lingered in the same area until noon then headed back towards Burgeo Bank and surveyed along southern Newfoundland in good conditions. We sighted a few dolphins, a minke here and there and 3 fin whales off Port aux Basque at the SW end of Newfoundland, as we headed back into the St Lawrence. The 17th we tracked along the Laurentian Channel towards Cape Gaspe and spotted one minke, a finback and several groups of Atlantic white-sided dolphins all heading south. The weather turned from warm to abruptly cold as we approached Gaspe, where we arrived the evening of the 18th facing a wonderful sunset. We disembarked from the Sedna the next morning and returned to our cottage base in Cape aux Os near Forillon Park. The next few days were spent waiting out strong winds and the Sedna stayed anchored in Gaspe Bay. On the 22 we went out in our RIB to look for whales and as the early morning fog dissipated we met up with the Sedna and worked with a group of three humpbacks. We collected biopsies from all 3 including old-timers Fleuret and Splish along the cliffs just outside Gaspe Bay. These whales should appear in one of the film segments presented as part of the series for 1000 Days for the planet produced by Glacialis Productions in the next few months.
That ended our Gaspe and southern St Lawrence surveys for 2014 and I headed home very much surprised that we had not seen one blue whale the whole time and of course not deployed a single satellite tag, but such is nature. RS