2014 June 12 Thursday
Ewing Bank area, Gulf of Mexico
OWOC’s third Whale Shark search of 2014, and our first search with a tagging boat in the Ewing Bank area(WS3-EB2)
On this third search of the season for whale sharks, we hit the full moon almost perfectly, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had their research boat and divers out for the day to Ewing Bank, prepared to find, identify, and tag some new whale sharks. The date was just a week earlier than last year when we had found so many whale sharks, hence our hopes were high. To decide where we would focus our search, we considered many factors: Where blue water was today, where we had seen wildlife (versus oil, for example) on our last flight, the most likely locations for whale sharks based on underwater terrain, and finally the mobility of the research boat. We started out by flying the bank area — the underwater ridge between Diaphus Bank to the east and Ewing Bank (and a bit beyond) to the west. We searched as far northward as blue water or clear blue-green water permitted us to see well, and as far southward in our search as we thought the tagging boat could reach easily. We also gave lower priority to the areas where there was lots of oil sheen (the southern portion of the survey grid).
Here are maps showing our flight survey of today, with our flight path in magenta. Below it are today’s maps superposed on the flight from last May 22, which surveyed the entire grid area. The icons indicate our substantial sightings of bait balls, a hammerhead shark and one very large manta ray, some fairly large fish and a small group of dolphins, and beautiful large arrays of sargassum. But alas, no whale sharks! We were stymied again.
Read the full article and see all the photos here!