Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Great Debate!

We set off early this morning, heading west through the channel between Wasini Island and the mainland. Conditions were perfect, with barely a ripple breaking the surface. We had been on dedicated search for half an hour when we spotted a long, dark, seemingly inanimate object floating in the water about 100m off. A great debate then ensued about whether this object was in fact a log or a whale. Despite the perfect conditions, the log/whale debate continued until we came close enough to identify a Humpback Whale! And not just one, but a mother and calf!

-- Humpback Whales resting in relatively shallow waters --

They were resting in the relatively shallow waters close to the mangrove coast. We followed the “logs” for 2 and a half hours and were able to take photos of their dorsal fins to compare or add to the catalogue of previous humpback whale sightings in the area. It was also fantastic to see the responses of the local fishermen – they were completely untroubled by the creatures dwarfing their tiny canoes!

-- Local fishermen untroubled by the gigantic Humpback Whales! --

Humpbacks undertake extensive migrations to lower latitudes during winter to mate and calf in the warmer waters. The northern migration usually starts passing through Kenyan waters during June and July and can continue until early October. This year, however, has been notable in that the first whales did not arrive until August. The Southern migration back to productive Antarctic feeding grounds can begin at any point during those latter months, with mothers and calves often the first to leave.

Our mother and calf were generally milling around, so we couldn’t tell at what stage of the journey they were on. What we could all agree on in the end though, was that they most definitely were not logs!