As you may have heard, the (second) hurricane off the Pacific coast earlier this week hit parts of Baja pretty badly. While we aren’t getting any direct effects of that (but thanks for the few emails we have received asking), we are picking up some of the swell from it mixing in with some local swell for confused seas. The bigger issue is that we have just had some very strong offshore winds the last few days. We were really wanting to work offshore this last week of SOCAL-14 phase II but we have gotten progressively knocked backwards and are sitting in a port on the mainland tonight. Even in here at midnight I can hear the wind howling through the harbor and there is a small craft advisory in effect even close to shore. So, it’s been a little rough finding reasonable conditions in which to tag cetaceans. We did manage to tag and follow a fin whale yesterday (see photo below – taken under NMFS permit #14534, credit A. Friedlaender) and run a full experimental sequence as well as prey imaging measurements.
Today we had a very interesting interaction with an unidentified cetacean swimming at quite high speed. Below is a photo of what most of the interaction looked like as the animal was throwing water strongly swimming at over 15 knots. We are still sorting through all the video and photos taken and piecing it together with the observations of our visual team and the tagging boat. From all accounts though, this was likely not one of the more common species we have seen and tagged out here. The current best guess is actually a Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus), but we are still trying to get some more insight into that. We will provide some better pictures and description of this as possible – most of what we saw looked like the below picture in the one interaction we had trying to deploy a tag (on pole in the foreground).
We have two more field days out here and will provide a final update and summary of this segment of our field work by the end of the week. Thanks for the interest and the comments and encouragement received. Again, we really are fine out here with the storm.