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She Pooed - Take a Picture!
As the team had to bring the research boat off the water yesterday for some minor boat maintenance, anxiety was running high to get back on the water this morning. With only a light breeze blowing out of the southwest we departed the harbor a full hour earlier than the norm, fully rested and fully prepared for a full day of whale research.
Now as a marine researcher (or any scientist for that matter) there’s an unsaid amount of training that goes into the job, molding each individual to be as observant and objective to nature as possible. An individual needs to be able to take in and document nature at both its harshest and at its finest. One needs to be able to think outside the box, and question the actions and behaviors of wildlife when in the field and in the heat of the moment.
So, when a mom suddenly deficates in the middle of her migration south, take a picture! Why take a picture? Because in order to deficate (aka-poo), she had to have ingested food at some point either within the bay or prior to her stop into the Bay. This is big stuff!
Although defication has been witnessed within Hervey Bay only a couple times over the past few years, feeding has only been scientifically documented a couple times off of Moreton Island (south of Hervey Bay). It wasn’t until about twenty years ago that Greg first discovered the ability of whales to feed off their feeding grounds “opportunistically” when visiting local whalewatch operaters Ros and Gordon Butts of Eden, New South Wales (nearly 1,500 miles away from their known Antarctic feeding ground). Since then, whales have been scientifically documented worldwide ingesting food off their designated feeding grounds in places such as Brazil, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Mexico and even once within the Hawaiian Islands.
Our mom today likely had an opportunistic feed at some point prior to her stop into Hervey Bay, but exactly where we’ll never know. Through documentation of her actions however, we can at least prove that she had to have ingested something. So, next time you’re out on the water and catch a whale taking a dump outside of its designated feeding ground, don’t hesitate.. think like a scientist and take a picture!