July 19, 2004
Today we are nearly 180 miles offshore, and are currently approaching a chain of sea mountains known as the Patton Sea Mounts. Sea mountains are often correlated with high densities of mammals, and this area will be particularly valuable in terms of our research as it is an area not often covered by other scientists.
The expectations proved true and the clear skies and calm conditions brought an abundance of diverse species. In addition to humpbacks, we encountered dozens of fin whales, sperm whales, and orcas. Another species of interest that we encountered were the Berardius beaked whales, Berardius bairdii. Berardius is the largest member of the beaked whales and tend to travel in pods of 5-20 individuals. This particular pod schooled in a group of approximately 15 individuals, surfacing in a unison reminiscent of aquatic ballet. They swam in a two-tiered staggered formation, their blows undulating in a syncopated manner. Their bulbous heads were clearly visible, due to the exceptionally calm seas. Another "first" for our team!
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