By Cole Rachman
The team has been hearing a lot of whale songs in the field with the help of the hydrophone we have on board. We have even been fortunate enough to hear a few singers without the assistance of the hydrophone because of how close these males have been approaching the boat and because of how loud they are projecting these “love calls”. For the most part the sounds the whales make consist of creaks, groans and moans, however they can get pretty interesting and often have us giggling aboard. Here is a short segment of a 20 minute recording that we got from a singer just outside of the Islas Secas!
Yesterday was a slow day for whales, so we spent some time with a group of spotted dolphins (we don't discriminate)! This group had 4 mother calf pairs in it. Here's some underwater footage of them swimming alongside our boat.
The other day we were following two adult whales when we noticed one of them defecated. This is not something we see very often here because the whales are not typically feeding while they are on their breeding grounds. There simply is not enough food in the abundance that they find on their feeding grounds, so they have adapted to fasting while they are in the breeding areas. However, feeding has occasionally been observed in breeding areas. We have seen a mom feeding off northern Costa Rica and our boat captain described feeding behavior that he has seen near here. When given the opportunity, why not take a snack?
By Gigi Veve
Islas Secas, Panama and those islands surrounding along with the main
land are an incredibly majestic and special place in the world. The
only thing that takes away from its astounding beauty is the immensity
of garbage seen everywhere. Over the past few weeks we have seen an
assortment of items such as plastics, metals, fabrics, shoes, you name
it and most likely we saw it floating in the ocean. Studies have shown
that the majority of these items are not getting dumped from boats,
but are drifting from land, which is frustrating but means that we
have the power to make the difference. We have witnessed a floating
fishing net with an entangled sea turtle that unfortunately was dead,
plastic bottles surrounding the whales and dolphins we are conducting
surveys on, large plastic sacks wrapped around dolphins flukes, and
this is a small region in comparison to what is going on in the rest
our worlds oceans. Latin America and the Caribbean alone produce 160
million tons of unwanted trash per year, with per capita values
ranging from 0.1 to 14kg/capita/day. The highest per capita solid
waste generation rates are found in the islands of the Caribbean,
which includes the Caribbean coast of Panama (1). We need to take
these matters into our own hands and take responsibility for our
species impacts on the world. It is out of control right now and we
need to do something about it rather than turn our shoulders from it.
We can’t keep having the mentality that it will not have an affect on
us, so pick up a piece of garbage because every piece counts. Lets
maintain an optimistic attitude and make a difference together,
because whether we like to believe it or not this is impacting us.
1. "Waste Generation." URBAN DEVELOPMENT SERIES – KNOWLEDGE PAPERS
Waste Generation (n.d.): 9. Web.
There are three species in this photo...can you tell what they are?
Here's a time lapse video our intern Cole made showing a typical day looking for whales. On this day we went to the Contreras Islands and saw 5 humpback whales and one Bryde's whale, as well as many dolphins.
Today we had an exhilarating experience within minutes of leaving the dock. A very curious whale approached our boat and spent 25 minutes circling our boat, swimming underneath us, and spy hopping right next to us (raising its head vertically out of the water). It's hard to describe in words what it's like to be in a 22 foot boat next to a 45 foot animal! Check out the underwater footage our intern Gigi got with her GoPro.
We have started our 2014 humpback whale season in the Chiriqui Gulf in Panama and we have already had great sightings. Today we transported all of our gear for the season out to the Islas Secas. We were thrilled to see 9 humpback whales on the way, including mom and calf pairs and breaching whales in the distance. I hope this season is going to be as productive as last year. So far it looks promising.