Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reporting Dead Sea Mammals

I’m not quite sure what happened, but somehow we’ve become mired in home repair and improvement projects, most of our paddling trips have been short and on the river. But not necessarily uneventful.

The top photo shows a barge starting on its journey north to deliver a module to a nickel processing plant in Newfoundland. We spotted that shortly after we discovered a small long-dead harbor porpoise. (I’ll spare you those photos.)

Once home I reported the porpoise to the Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline(1-800-532-9551), which requests sightings of any live or dead sea mammal. 1-800-532-9551 gives a series of automated prompts. The first set was easy: “Press ‘1’ to report a seal, Press ‘2’ to report a turtle…” The next set not so; it gave location ranges and numbers for live and stranded animals. Eventually I wound up leaving a message on an answering machine at the College of the Atlantic. To be fair, that number also gave me the option of contacting a cell phone fort emergencies. I felt there may be some interest in noting the dead mammal, but it was not worth disturbing someone on Easter.
The next day as we waited for updates on our car repair, delivery information on our flooring and a call back from a radon mitigation specialist I had a call from the NOAA representative at College of the Atlantic. She was interested in seeing the porpoise. First I ran down a third of the way down our hill with a spotting scope to determine if the porpoise was still there. It was and a few buzzards had joined it. (I suspect the buzzards had visited many times prior.) I called NOAA back with the information I had; she then requested driving instructions. That was more challenging. For while the porpoise was within sighting distance, it was over 20 miles by road from our house, and I’m not sure the access roads shown on Google Earth were open for public use. Unfortunately COA’s boat was not currently in the water. I was planning on sending her my photos so she could assess if a trip would be beneficial when Mark noted a NOAA fisheries boat on the far side of the river.
It was a salmon studies group, coincidentally setting up an experiment. Mark raced all the way down the hill and managed to waive them down. Various phone numbers were exchanged and the NOAA salmon folk agreed to add examining the deceased porpoise to their activities.
One last photo just for fun; from a scant four days earlier before the porpoise sighting, Mark paddles into an inlet filled with snow.
Now the blackflies are out in nose filling force, but soon they’ll be gone, and they do give us a reason to look forward to windy days. Meanwhile, we've got transportation, our shed is filled with wood, the radon mitigated and enough flooring installed to realize we'll need to order more. But hopefully we'll take some road trips soon...

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story. I'm glad to learn that all marine mammal deaths are investigated and that you made such an effort to report it.

    I'm also mired in home repairs. I think it's a spring thing! And those nasty black flies are just showing up here in Canada. They'll be in record numbers soon!