Whales in Fundy at
bad time of year
BY CHUCK BROWN
ST. STEPHEN -
Marine researchers continue to monitor right whale activity, off New
Brunswick's southern coast ready to respond to reports of entanglements.
Dozens of the rare North Atlantic right whales were
spotted over the weekend off Grand Manan island and further nortb between
Campobello and The Wolves Islands. They're in the Bay of Fundy at a bad time of
year - the start of the lobster fishing season.
Saturday I saw at least a dozen right whales just from Swallowtail (a
lighthouse on Grand Manan)," said Laurie Murison, managing director ol the
Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station. "Sunday, again, I saw probably
that many but they were moving farther off shore."
Murison said Campobello fishermen reported 10 to 15
whales between Campobello and The Wolves Islands to the east.
She said she's hopeful the whales are safe but said
there's no saying for certain.
"None have been seen
entangled for sure and there certainly haven't been any official (reports), she
"If there are entanglements we certainly have
people ready to respond."
Ship strikes and entanglements
in fishing gear are the whales' greatest threats. There are an estimated 350
right whales left in the North Atlantic.
Murison said she
had hoped the whales were moving out of the Bay of Fundy but the sightings on
the weekend show they're still hanging around.
hoping the numbers were going down but they weren't on the weekend, Murison
On Monday she saw one whale off in the distance
from Swallowtail and two others off Grand Manan's north shore. That doesn't,
however, mean the whales are moving out of the bay.
are extremely mobile and it doesn't take very long for them to swim from
different ledges off Portland back into the Bay of Fundy" Murison said.
Fishermen have agreed not to set traps within two
kilometres of any whale sighting and the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cumella
has been patrolling to monitor the whale activity. The Grand Manan Fishermen's
Association set up a whale hotline to report sightings. The Department of
Fisheries and Oceans also conducted aerial surveys to monitor the whales'
The opening of the lobster fishery was delayed
a day last week, partly because of the whales and also because of weather.
Normally the whales are moving south along the Atlantic
coast by now on the way to their winter calving areas off Florida and Georgia.
There are about 300 lobster licenses between Saint John
and the United States border, but only about 20 fishermen set traps in the area
between Blacks Harbour and Grand Manan Island, where most of the whales have
With files from Canadian Press