Atlantic white sided dolphins and superpod of pilot whales in the Vestfjord

For over a week we have encountered many long-finned pilot whales feeding and socializing in the Vestfjord. So far we could already identify 4 pods that are known to us since 2009, they come almost every summer into the fjord and meet other pods. It seems that summer time is meeting for pilot whales in the north. Often Atlantic white sided dolphins are seen with them, especially during the time when mackerel is here. Last year we could for the first time film AWSD dolphins feeding on mackerel, whether pilot whales feed on mackerel is not known, usually the dive deep and look for squid and when they do they often swim with full speed on to our resting boat and all whales dive down simultaneously, as you can see on the last pictures! Then they are gone for ca 10 minutes and come up at almost the same place. During their deep dives, the echolocate a lot to find their prey and way around, as you can hear on the sound file, those are the loud clicking sounds, in addition they keep contact with calls.. enjoy (unfortunately there is ship noise in the background :-(!

However when big food competitors such a sperm whales, come into their feeding range they might turn into fierce attackers, as seen by Seasafari in Andenes a few days ago! you can watch a video on NRK, however I disagree with the scientist and don’t believe it was playful behavior, they clearly attack the spermwhale, I have never observed this when they were playing. In my opinion it can be food competition or even a food source, in 2012 I observed pilot whales feeding a carcass of a minke whale…their diet is more diverse than we thought.

Our work focuses on studying the social and vocal behavior of the whales that come into the Vestfjord in order to better understand them, up to now our knowledge is very limited and we need a lot of enduring field work, accurate analysis and most of all cooperation with other whale researchers in the field and people seeing them and sharing their pictures and sightings with us. We cannot know beforehand where the whales are, sometimes it takes more than 8 hours to find them, or we do not succeed at all, therefore we need help from as many people as possible.
Slowly (after 12 years of research) but surely the puzzle is coming together and we learn and understand new things about these elusive and social beings every time we meet them!

We do have a few faithful companies helping us with the sightings and we inform them when we see whales close by their harbor. If you want to go out at sea with a small chance to see whales, you might join:
Lofoten Charterboat in Svolvaer, Aqua Lofoten Adventures in Reine or Lofoten Opplevelser in Henningsvaer.
For pure whale watching trips you have to go to Andenes and visit Seasafari who work together with our research partners Marefa.

If you want to support our work please think about becoming a supporting member or give donation, we are happy for every contribution. Due to the difficulties of the long field work and the small size of my boat we are not able to take people out with us, but there are other ways to help us and learn about the whales.
Please contact us for further information: info@ocean-sounds.org

Thank you and I wish you all a nice & sunny summer,

Heike

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