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Journals 2008/2009

Heather Judkins
Seminole High School, Seminole, FL

"ORCAWALE-ORegon, CAlifornia, WAshington, Line-Transect and Ecosystem-Marine Mammal Survey"
NOAA R/V McArthur II
July 28, 2008 - August 30, 2008
Journal Index:
July 28 - 30 - 31
August 3 - 6 - 9 - 11 - 12 - 15 - 16 - 19 - 21

July 30, 2008
Mammal Mania

We started our official efforts yesterday in seas about 10-14 foot high and rainy weather for most of the day. What a way to start the cruise! Plenty to do and the projects must go on, right? The transect line we are following goes off the coast about 300 miles and runs from Washington state through the south tip of California. The area is divided into a large grid and the ships runs along the transect line unless the observers decide to deviate from the line to get closer to the whale species.

So, yesterday, the mammal observers spotted Dall's Porpoises and I saw my first sperm whale. Dall's Porpoises seem to be everywhere out here. It was also the first night of squid jigging and although we didn't catch anything, it was a good time to make sure we had everything we needed for the nightly process.

Today was a much calmer day on the water, the seas eased up a little and the sun was actually shining all afternoon. Marine mammal observations begin at sunrise (5:50 a.m.) and end at sunset (8:50 p.m.). This is quite a long day for the observers and they rotate in two-hour shifts up on the flying bridge. Multiple Dall's Porpoise sightings started the day for us and around 4:30 pm, we saw two Fin Whales! A mother/calf pair that didn't seemed concerned with a large ship hanging around getting biopsies and pictures. It was amazing! They were so close that we could smell their fishy breathe as they came to surface. The water was clear enough to see when they were coming up to breathe which allowed for many great pictures and video.

Lastly, towards the end of effort, we struck gold with an enormous group of Northern right Whale dolphins and mixed in were some Pacific white-sided dolphins. I hadn't seen the northern right whale dolphins before and a couple of things struck me as I watched them for 45 minutes around the ship and swimming on the bow. The Northern right whale dolphins don't have a dorsal fin and have the coloration of Orcas. The white-sided dolphins are just that-white sided! It was a great way to end the marine mammal efforts for the day.

Question 1: Compare and contrast the Dall's Porpoise and the Fin whale. Include sizes, what they eat, and body structure.

Question 2: What are three organisms that will most likely to be caught in the IKMT? (hint: there are hundreds)