Alex Loers captains the Research Vessel Stellwagen from the Bahamas to the Gulf of Maine. The vessel is well known to whale researchers as a strong, well equipped research vessel capable of a wide variety of research missions.
Summer of 2007, The R/V Stellwagen cruised from Marblehead to Northeast Harbor looking for right whales in the northwest Gulf of Maine. The ship is a research platform for researchers and engineers for a number of institutions. This cruise carried researches from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Cornell, the New England Aquarium and the Maine Department of Fisheries.
Spotters stood watch. Siting a right whale is difficult because the spout is not as high as is the spot of humpback or fin whales. For Maine, regulations are being considered that would require lobstermen to sink their pot lines to minimize chances of whale entanglement when lobstering off rocky bottoms south of the coast of Maine.
The research question was how do right whales dive and feed on hard bottoms off the coast of Maine and would sinking lobster lines make any difference for the whale. To answer the question researchers stood by with “pinger buoys” and a whale tag the size of a small paperback with four suction cups.
Right whales were never seen during this cruise of the RV Stellwagen. Yet, the researchers tested out equipment by tagging a ship fender thrown overboard and triangulating its location with the pinger buoys.
Location:From the Bahamas to the Gulf of Maine