ORCAWALE 2001: Weekly Report for 10/4/01 to 10/10/01
Crew and Scientists alike took advantage of the San Diego inport to visit family and/or travel. After returning from places as distant and distinct as Florida, the Pacific Northwest, the desert at Anza Borrego and the kelp forests in La Jolla cove, our late afternoon departure on 8October gave all time to settle in and swap stories before embarking on the second half of ORCAWALE. We tested the EK500 under the lights of downtown, and then departed San Diego Bay for Leg 4 at 2000.
This report covers the first two days of Leg 4, as we transit to the northwest across the southern portion of the study area. Our trackline on the first day out ran along side Cortes Bank and Bishop Rock. We found a large, scattered aggregation of fin whales there, likely exploiting this well known fishing spot. Earlier, a group of three blue whales gave us two good photos to take back home, along with acoustic recordings of three different types of vocalizations Three Delphinus schools rounded out the day.
The relatively calm seas we enjoyed on Tuesday were replaced with a larger swell and higher winds on Wednesday. Farther offshore now, the mammal observers recorded no sightings, although the acousticians heard a number of dolphin schools (many outside of the visual detection range), and the birders saw only a few winged creatures all day. Chico spent his day looking at the small boat on deck wistfully. A low pressure area with gale force winds are in the forecast tomorrow.
In closing this short weekly report, we miss the presence of Jim Cotton who, due to a family emergency, is unable to travel on this leg. Richard Rowlett has graciously and expertly brought Tina Fahy, visiting scientist from the NMFS regional office, up to speed as a mammal observer to fill in until his return, and Juan Carlos is ID Specialist. Thanks to you all and our thoughts go out to Jim and his family.
Date Time Lat Long Miles Beauf
100901 0703 N32:18.71 W118:17.59 66.3nmi 3.6
1820 N32:36.04 W119:40.08
101001 0713 N32:59.11 W121:19.25 91.4nmi 4.6
1828 N33:29.91 W122:47.55
Code Species Tot#
17 shortbeak common dolphin 3
74 fin whale 1
75 blue whale 1
79 unidentified large whale 1
Biopsy (Juan Carlos Salinas and Erin LaBrecque)
Photo-ID (Todd Chander, Leigh Torres and Laura Morse)
Species #Biopsies Cumulative #ID-Photos Cumulative
(this week) Total (this week) Total
Physeter macrocephalus 0 9 0 16
Balaenoptera musculus 0 10 2 14
Balaenoptera physalus 1 10 0 15
Megaptera novaeangliae 0 15 0 22
Delphinus delphis 4 45 0 11
Grampus griseus 0 1 0 1
Lagenorhyncus obliquidens 0 8 0 0
Lissodelphis borealis 0 14 0 0
Phocoenoides dalli 0 8 0 0
Orcinus orca 0 2 0 . 18
Eschrictius robustus 0 3 0 7
Stenella coeruleoalba 0 0 0 1
Tursiops truncatus 0 3 0 0
Total 5 128 2 105
Oceanography (Candice Hall)
Day CTDs #XBTs #Bongos Notes
4 October 0 0 0
5 October 0 0 0
6 Ocotber 0 0 0
7 October 0 0 0
8 October 0 0 0
9 October 1 4 1
10 October 1 4 1
Seabirds (Michael Force and Cornelia Oedekoven)
Highlights this week include female Grace's Warbler, immature female Pine Warbler, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Acorn Woodpecker and Tropical Kingbird. No, wait a minute. Those aren't seabirds! That was San Diego. Offshore there is little to report. Lost Yellow-rumped Warbler and Lincoln and Vesper Sparrows added a passerine flavour to a day dominated by Western Gulls, the former likely providing food for the latter. A couple of Red-billed Tropicbirds on Tuesday were tardy summer stragglers of those that move north to the southern California bight. The rocky cliffs of the Channel Islands are prime real estate for future nesting attempts. Storm-petrels were scarce on Tuesday although there was a noticeable concentration of Black Storm-Petrels in an area with a correspondingly high Fin Whale density.
Acoustics (Shannon Rankin and Tony Martinez)
The dolphins have been cooperative so far this leg, with one group entertaining us at a time. In addition to vocalizations from a school of common dolphins, we have had detections from nine dolphin schools not seen by the observers (many were outside of their effective detection range). Two successful sonobuoys (of three) were deployed on a total of three blue whales (unfortunately, no biopsies). Difar processing will hopefully confirm what appears to be A/B calls from a group of two animals and low frequency downsweeps from the solitary animal. Acoustically speaking, this leg has started out successfully with the exception of an electrical spike that killed our primary recording system for high frequency whistles (no worried Julie, we have other means to keep you enslaved).