Monday, July 30, 2012
Humpback whales have been observed playing around the TE SubCom Dependable. Two Protected Species Visual Observers are onboard as part of the OOI team during the Primary Node Installation Cruise.
--Photo by Cecile Durand
As part of the OOI team at sea for the primary node installation cruise, the job of the two Protected Species Visual Observers (PSVOs) is to ensure that no marine mammals are endangered by ship activities. PSVOs Patti Haase and Cheryl Cross report on what they have seen thus far.
The entire crew of the TE SubCom Dependable is standing in the sun out on deck, wearing life jackets and toting survival suits, just wrapping up a weekly drill. Suddenly we all hear a gigantic whooshing noise. We run to the port rail and look down on a 40' humpback whale surfacing, slow and stately, just feet from the ship. We watch in awe as a second whale slowly rises into view, breaks the surface with its long rostrum, and expels almost 1000 gallons of air out of its lungs with another huge WHOOOOOOSH. Much to the delight of the crew with a plethora of cameras, the two whales laze back and forth near the bow of the ship for nearly an hour.
We are the Protected Species Visual Observers onboard this cruise. Although we do this work for a living, we still get a charge from seeing these majestic creatures up close. Our job on board is to make sure no marine mammals are endangered by the activities of the ship. We keep a constant lookout for whales, dolphins, and pinnipeds. We record the species and how many are there, and alert the project managers if the animals come too close to the ship's operations. The ship's bridge wings, 21m above the water, provide a great unobstructed lookout platform from which we can see approximately 7 miles to the horizon. Thus far on this cruise we have seen humpbacks, fin whales, a sei whale, Risso's dolphins, Northern right whale dolphins, Dall's porpoises, a California sea lion, and lots and lots of Pacific white-sided dolphins, but nothing has been as spectacular as the two visiting humpbacks.
Patti Haase and Cheryl Cross
Protected Species Visual Observers