SEA Sailing Symposium on North Atlantic Right Whales is officially underway

April 23, 2023

Kayla Sheehan

Photo courtesy and copyright Jesse Stuart Mechling

Photo courtesy and copyright Jesse Stuart Mechling

As of noon today (23 April) we are officially underway.  Participants and invited experts arrived late Saturday, 22 April, afternoon. Weather throughout the day brought in a few squalls, clear skies and sunshine, and great evening lightening shows with cooler temps. After participants were situated, orientation kicked off with a walkthrough of the Cramer at 1600 followed by splitting off into our watch group for the first part of emergency training. The first 24-hours onboard can be a lot for participants and crew alike.

By a little after 2100, it was time to break for the evening, but not before a nighttime demonstration of the hydrophone courtesy of Lindsey Transue, NOAA NEFSC.  Throughout the day, those onboard witnessed some of the Charleston resident dolphins and we were hopeful we would be able to hear them.  Transue shared that there are about 300 resident bottlenose dolphins in the area and that they are often heard and seen by the South Carolina Aquarium- only a few docks away. With assistance from SEA’s assistant scientists onboard, we deployed the hydrophone, but we didn’t hear dolphins- we heard fish.

According to Transue what we heard was a mixture of silver perch and spotted sea trout chorusing, “fish song,” and the static and occasional popping noise was that of snapping shrimp snapping their large claws. This behavior is used as a form of communication, feeding, or defending their territory and just like that within our first 6 hours everyone had learned something new.

Sunday started off early with breakfast at 0730, followed by chores, more safety drills, another visit by the local dolphins, a faint whistle picked up on the hydrophone, and then preparation to cast off and begin the journey north to New York City.

Tomorrow on the first ever Massachusetts Right Whale Day, Bob Rocha, New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Jesses Mechling, Center for Coastal Studies, will present and facilitate group discussions.  These discussions as well as those that follow will be recorded and shared upon the Cramer’s return to NYC.

Summaries of the presentation will be shared the next morning and we encourage you to submit questions for the Instagram Live event on April 28 at 1330.

Lindsey Transue of NOAA NEFSC gives a nighttime demonstration of the hydrophone while docked in Charleston, SC

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