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Where Are You Mate?
Rain clouds billowed and threatened to dominate the morning sky as we left the harbor this morning, and a full week’s worth of heavy showers weighed heavy on our minds from the previous evenings weather forecast. For weeks now we may not have been able to dodge the high winds, but heavy rains and fog have never really presented a problem… until today.
We spent the morning weaving through the sandbanks, swell, and wind chop as per usual out to where our beloved humpback whales awaited us, only to find ourselves face to face with an absolutely enormous (no exaggeration here) wall of rain. Not just any giant wall of rain… Not the come and go, here now and gone later kind of rain. Not the “just drive your research boat around the ocean squall” kind of rain, but rather the “¼ mile visibility, blanket of terrential downpour for a solid 24 hours” kind of rain.
Regardless of the conditions spirits were still high over the VHF radio as captains joked about the lack of visibility and extremity of the situation (not being able to see land, other vessels, or even the bow’s of their own boats for that matter).
“Uhh, where are you mate? Where’d you end up?”
“Wish I knew mate. Can't even find my bow, how am I supposed to find a whale in this?\"
A bay that is usually billowing with whale blows and arched backs for miles on end was now seemingly only home to four pods, all shared by eight whalewatch boats. Luckily for us we had actually located three pods prior to the wall of rain engulfing the team, so in the end the day was not a total loss.
Although the day of research was a little cut short on the water due to safety reasons, no day is ever really a “foul weather day” as hours/days of data input still await at home. The only tradeoff to not being on the water with the whales, you ask? Hot chocolate and a gratifying sense of data organization!