Humpback Whale Migration Update: April 11, 2001
Today's Report Includes:
The humpbacks are coming! The humpbacks are coming! We've gotten word from the Center for Coastal Studies that
the first mother-calf pair has been spotted on Stellwagen Bank. "Mural," a mature female was spotted
with her first known calf (although she has been seen for some 22 years) during a Sanctuary Survey Cruise on April
4th. This is the earliest recorded sighting of a humpback calf in these waters, but researchers say this could
just be due to the fact that there is greater sighting effort this year than in past years.
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Journey North Students Name a Whale!
Congratulations to Steve McElroy's class in Brecksville, OH, and Rory Telander's class in Little Falls, MN. Fan's calf almost got the name, "X-Wing" as suggested by some students (it finished second), but the naturalists thought the scars looked more like "Ks" and named the whale Kappa. The Stellwagen sanctuary will support the whale-naming workshop again next year so keep those creative juices flowing!
"Sarah the Sailor" Reports from the Silver Bank
"As soon as we neared Silver Bank, students and crew began to observe whales surfacing, spouting, and slapping tails at distances as close as a few hundred feet and as far away as near the visible horizon. Once at the bank, whale sightings increased in frequency from once every few hours to a sighting every 20 minutes or less. The most common behaviors of the whales sighted included surfacing, spouting, and flipper-flapping. A few whales were observed fluking up, in a few cases within 100 yards of our ship, the Cramer. Many students also reported (and I personally observed) whales fully or partially breaching. A few times whales came as close as 30 yards from our ship and spouted. Mothers with calves were observed a few times, but most often larger whales swimming alone or in pairs would be spotted by observers. The whales swam close to both the Cramer and to the smaller dive boats based out of the ships anchored across Reef Harbor, and seemed at times to be expressing as much interest in us as we were in them."
A Knot of a Different Kind: Discussion of Challenge Question #12
Before velcro we all had a hard time untying the knots from our shoelaces. But, wait, sailors have a different way of thinking about knots! Knots have important role in navigating a ship.
Thanks to Hussain and Kevin at Iselin Middle School, we know that a knot measures the distance you travel within a time period. A nautical mile is a unit of distance equal to 6080 ft, which is just over a mile (5280 ft.).
Feeding Grounds: Discussion of Challenge Question #13
"Whales are big animals. About how much food does a humpback whale consume each day at their summer feeding grounds?"
Imagine the hunger you would have after months at the breeding and calving grounds AND migrating back north! Whales are mighty hungry and need to replenish their bodies with lots of chow. Researchers estimate that they will eat about a ton of food each day during their stay at the summer feeding grounds. Good job researching this question, Ruchi and Melissa at Iselin Middle School.
Holy Cow That's a Lot of Milk! Discussion of Challenge Question #14
"If a humpback calf consumes 130 gallons of milk each day for 9 months, what is the total amount of milk that the mother produces for the calf during that time?"
Can I get out my calculator? I'm sure you were thinking the same thing when you were faced with a question about this quantity of milk! Because our months aren't all the same length, there were a few ways to calculate this question. A few of you used 30 days as an average number of days in a month and did the calculations using this number. I bet some of you thought about which months the calves were born and started calculating nine months from that start. Whatever you did, your answers were all around the same. Mother humpbacks produce between 35,100 and 35,700 gallons of milk during the nine months they provide food for their calves.
Thank you to Ms. Hall's grade 5 class at Tom Longboat P.S. Scarborough, Ontario, Kristina, Kelly, Ruchi, John and Melissa at Iselin Middle School in Iselin, New Jersey, and Mrs.Morro's second grade class at Charles A. Selzer School, Dumont, New Jersey.
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The Next Humpback Whale Migration Update will Be Posted on April 25, 2001.
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