Welcome to our new blog :)
This summer the Ocean Sounds Team has moved to Lofoten for the boat fieldwork. We are happy to be closer to the areas where the whales we study frequent (orcas and pilot whales), as well as having a place on land to work together on data analysis. We have rented a very nice house near Reine with a beautiful ocean view, where you can see the whales from land as well.
Pilot whales on the way
Just before we set out to cross the Vestfjord on a beautiful Sunday evening, we got a call about pilot whales in Kjerringøy near Bodø. The crossing of the Vestfjord would have to wait when there are whales nearby! We drove the boat to Kjerringøy excited to see the first pod of the season, and as we approached we could see several matrilines (pods) of whales feeding in the deep waters. We approached the first group taking Photo-ID (photo identification) pictures and started recording their vocalizations with our hydrophone (underwater microphone). At the same time, we note their behavior to connect it with their vocalizations to better understand how they communicate.
We spent over three hours collecting data on these magnificent animals, there may have been 80 or 100 individuals all enjoying the midnight sun.
Crossing the Vestfjord was spectacular
After leaving the whales, we set out into the early morning light to cross the beautiful calm and peaceful Vestfjord. It looked more like a lake, with a smooth surface like glass in the magical light. The crossing took a little over three hours, with beautiful changes in the lighting of the arctic sun. Pink skies along the clear horizon and the moonlight shining onto the water was mesmerizing. We listened with our hydrophone but heard only the ferry and a large vessel, no more whales crossed our path. Approaching Lofoten was quite spectacular at 4am, with the dramatic beauty of the coastline as we went into the harbor.
Our Research Assistants have now joined us for the summer fieldwork. We will have some other marine researchers visiting us this summer as well as a conservation videographer. We look forward to a wonderful field season in Lofoten with many whales, and we can’t wait to share it with you all! Stay tuned for more updates to come.