Pelagic Report

pe·lag·ic

adjective technical: of or relating to the open sea.

Each week Steve Junker speaks with a research expert about an aspect of our coastal environment. From disentangling whales, to examining seal scat, to sonar-mapping the undersea environment, and much more, we look at the fascinating natural world where the land meets the ocean. 

CCS image, NOAA permit #19315

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association today announced it has lifted the suspension of whale entanglement efforts on all species except North Atlantic right whales.

The suspension was triggered by the tragic death last week of Canadian responder Joe Howlett, who was killed while freeing a right whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Center for Coastal Studies

The skeleton of a 35-foot whale is being installed for public display at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown. It’s not just any whale, either. It's the skeleton of an 11-year-old humpback that researchers followed from when she was a calf. 

CCS, NOAA Permit 19315

This week saw a season high for the number of endangered North Atlantic right whales spotted in Cape Cod Bay, including two new-of-the-year calves. It's the second-largest reported aggregation, behind only last year. 

cessnaowner.org/ goo.gl/daXIlf

How do you locate a few endangered whales in 200 square miles of ocean? Take to the air and look for the telltale spout.

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov / Permit 15488

A sharp drop in the birth rate of rare North Atlantic right whales has scientists worried. So far this year, only three calves have been identified. A more typical season might bring between ten and fifteen newborn calves.  

"It's a frighteningly low number," says Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo, a Senior Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown. 

Tom Whitten bit.ly/2jYU4Zc / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Two groups that are often perceived to be at odds, fishermen and scientists, have been working together to improve fishing techniques and gear, with the goal of reducing unwanted catches. Among their innovations? The Tickle Dredge and the Noodle Buoy. 

http://coastalstudies.org/

You may think of January as the time of year for animals to be hibernating, or wintering in warmer locales. But around Cape Cod, January is when right whales typically begin to appear again, returning from other points.

CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786

Last Sunday a young humpback whale was reported caught in fishing gear in the waters outside Boston Harbor. Members of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team, from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, traveled to the scene. Scott Landry, Director of the team, speaks with WCAI's Steve Junker about disentangling the whale.

http://www.capecodbay-monitor.org

Water quality issues can impact people’s lives – and livelihoods – on the Cape and Islands. We’ve seen that most recently with the rounds of shellfish closures. Now there's a website that shows water quality data from around the region.

gsoproject.org

Gulf Stream Orphans are appearing in our region. That’s not the name of a rock band, and they’re not unaccompanied children. Gulf Stream Orphans is the research term for Caribbean fish that show up in our Cape Cod waters, and scientists are looking to see if their numbers are increasing.

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