In an unexpected turn of events in 2023, the endangered North Atlantic right whale has reappeared in the Bay of Fundy, marking its first presence in the area after a ten-year absence.
Last Saturday, Quoddy Link Marine, a renowned whale-watching tour group based in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, ventured to an area of the water that had not been visited for approximately a week. To their astonishment, the crew quickly spotted the elusive marine mammal. In the days that followed, various groups also reported sightings of the North Atlantic right whale in the open waters of the bay.
Danielle Dion, Senior Naturalist at Quoddy Link Marine, vividly recalls the moment of their discovery. She hadn't seen a right whale in the bay since 2019, and the excitement was palpable. "Both Claire and I just yelled 'right whale,'" she recounts. "When I realized it was a right whale, the tears were flowing, and my legs were shaking."
Several groups from St. Andrews, as well as tours originating from Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, and Eastport, Maine, had the privilege of glimpsing one of the world's rarest creatures. Upon spotting the whales on Saturday, Dion promptly reached out to the Canadian Whale Institute and began documenting the encounter, successfully identifying four distinct whales.
Dion points out that the whales they identified had visited the Bay of Fundy in the past. Over the last decade, the North Atlantic right whale had largely abandoned the Bay of Fundy due to a scarcity of its primary food source, making its recent reappearance all the more surprising.
There are now only approximately 340 North Atlantic right whales left on Earth. Dion, who has been conducting tours in the Bay for 22 years, has documented anywhere from 100 to 150 different right whales during her tenure. She proudly mentions, "I've photographed about 40 percent of the population," a remarkable achievement given the species' critically endangered status.
Although the Gulf of St. Lawrence is the most common location to spot North Atlantic right whales, Dion emphasizes that only about a third of the global population has been found there.
"We need to protect them," Dion insists, referring to one of the world's most endangered animals. "We need to prevent vessel strikes and entanglements to ensure these whales have a future."
As excitement brews among tourists eager for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Dion reminds everyone that there are no guarantees when it comes to whale watching. She advises against getting one's hopes too high, as spotting right whales in the Bay of Fundy remains a special and rare occurrence.
Quoddy Link Marine will continue to offer tours until October 15 when the main season concludes, allowing more people to witness this remarkable return of the North Atlantic right whale to the Bay of Fundy.
Source: Avery MacRae, (October 4, 2023). North Atlantic right whales spotted in the Bay of Fundy four days in a row. CTV News. https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/north-atlantic-right-whales-spotted-in-the-bay-of-fundy-four-days-in-a-row-1.6589145
Picture: A North Atlantic right whale dives down into the Bay of Fundy. (Courtesy: Quoddy Link Marine)