Thursday 6 September 2012

Summary of our 2012 winter season in Walvis Bay

First off - a quick nod to Yamaha South Africa - who gave us a great deal on a set of 60HP four strokes this year making them (just) affordable to the project.  These new engines have allowed us to have more and longer sea days, use about 30% less fuel and range much further from home with great confidence. A good investment all round I'd say.

From 00:00 hours on the engines on 08 March 2012 to 309:00 hours today (06 Sept 2012)! All that with not a moments trouble (except for that time we kinked a fuel pipe, but that was entirely my fault, so lets not talk about that).  That's a lot of time on the water - so a big thanks to Yamaha SA for the help.

So - I'm not even going to summarise what we did in Luderitz this year just the 2 months here in Walvis Bay (perhaps next week).  This is the project's FIFTH winter here in Walvis and we have a great time series of data on Heaviside's and bottlenose dolphins and a growing body of data on humpback whales. Turning these thousands of photos, GPS points and pithy observations into scientific papers and hopefully some popular articles will be the focus of our next few months.

July 2012 - 
Team: Simon, Tess, Ryan Reisinger, Meagan Gary, Julie Coffey, Alex Sasso, Jeremy Day and Georgios Cambanis

- 19 sea days
- 16 with Heaviside's
- 9 with bottlenose
- 9 with humpback whales (a record in my experience here)
- 109:06 hours on the water (at an average of 05:44 per day)
- 966.2 km at sea.
~8600 photos taken!
Strandings: 1 dessicated Heaviside only

August 2012:
Team: Simon, Tess, Nico Tonachella, Aurora Nastasi, Meagan Gary, Julie Coffey, Sam Warnock, Alice Affatati and Sabrina Ergun

- 18 sea days (lots of bad weather unfortunately, so some short days but some much longer ones to compensate)
- 15 with Heaviside's
- 11 with bottlenose
- 5 with humpback whales
- 83:57 hours on the water (at an average of 05:48)
- 986.8km at sea.
~8400 photos taken.
Strandings: none (strangely)

So - remarkably similar months all round!

Here is where we went in the last two months, including our trip to Sandwich Harbour:
Each dot is recorded 1 min apart and so they represent what the boat was doing at any time
Yellow - Searching
Dark blue - Humpback whales
Bright blue - Heaviside's dolphins
Red - Bottlenose dolphins

Even at this level, habitat partitioning between the species is rather obvious.

You may notice that according to the marine navigation chart and Garmin chart plotter - our boat is in fact a hover craft.  Amazing how much the coastline changes down there as the sand dunes are eroded by the ocean.

A great big thank you for Tess and myself to Ryan, Nico and Aurora for helping keep things together! and especially a huge thank you to all the Oceans Research Interns for coming all the way to Namibia to help us out!

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