Newfoundland: ROV Survey & Whales!

The morning fog burned off slowly, revealing waves crashing high on the coastal cliffs.  Late in the morning we deployed Hylas to take a look at some of the targets we identified with Echo over the past two days. 

View from Hylas' cameraHylas is a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with five propellers that enable it to move up and down in the water column, as well as forward, backward and side to side.  It is equipped with a video camera that feeds through the tether back to the ship.  The ROV can survey an approximately 20-meter-diameter circular area around the weight that hangs off the side of the ship over the target.  The video resolution is sharp enough to show the ripples on a strand of kelp and tubeworm cases on the rocks.

A Whale!Hylas also serves as “whale bait”—once again a curious minke whale arrived to circle the ship several times.  At one point it spouted so close to us (less than 50 feet away) that we could smell the rotten fish odor in its blow.  It then swam away from the ship, surfaced a few times, breached (leaped straight up out of the water), then dove out of sight.  Not long afterward, a humpback appeared right off the stern and surprised everyone by breaching not once, but four times, within about 50 feet of the ship!  It stayed around us for another 20 minutes or so, breaching, flipper slapping, rolling and flashing us with its flukes over and over, then slowly headed eastward to rendezvous with another whale that came in from the south.  On the Hylas video during this time, we could see schools of fish, probably capelin, that we suspect the whale was chasing and feeding on. 

Immersion Program: 
JASON Learning: A Partnership of Sea Research Foundation and National Geographic