Our first full week!

 

So we’re finishing up our first full week of Researcher on Board activities. Last week we were a little delayed due to weather, but we’re right on course now. If you’re on any whale watch, you might see Itana, Annie or myself taking data. As Daniela mentioned in an earlier post, one of the things we are studying is the rate of surprise encounters. This is when we spot a whale for the first time within 300 yards of the boat. As you can imagine, this could be a really close call, for both us and the whale, so it’s important for us to know as much as we can about what causes these close encounters.  We’ve already had a few this week, check out the picture! Now that's close!

 

Part of our experiment design to learn more about surprise encounters requires that we have an equal number of surveys from each harbor and from different time periods.  This will help us determine if time of day or location influences the number surprise encounters we have on the whale watching trips. So you may see us at any time out of either harbor! While we’re out on the boat, we won’t just be taking photos, but we’ll be recording all sorts of data. It’s important for us to note all of the environmental conditions—anything from the amount of clouds in the sky, to the wind direction, to which side of the boat glare is on—because any of these things could potentially influence our rate of surprise encounters.

 

The fun part comes when we’re watching the whales. We also want to know if our presence, or the close distance (in the case of a surprise encounter) influences the behavior of the whales we’re watching. So as we’re all watching the whales, you’ll probably see us talking into our recorders or frantically taking notes about what the whales are doing.  All while trying to get some good ID pictures of the whale’s fluke. There’s a lot of multi-tasking going on!

 

While we’re out there, feel free to ask us about what we’re doing or how the research is going. We might have to pause the conversation to record some data, but as soon as we’re done, we’ll be happy to answer your questions. See you out on the water!

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