We finally get to get our feet wet (not literally we hope!). On Sunday we packed up S-1 and headed down the dock to the Gato Verde, our home for the next two weeks. Gato Verde means green cat, and the boat really optimises that name, it is a catamaran (hence the cat) and we operate on a combination of biodiesel and sail power (hence the green).

Our first steps on the boat held all the excitement you feel when you first go holiday and see your hotel for the first time – this is far cooler than a hotel though! There are 3 bed rooms in each of the two hulls. The galley has and amazing round sofa in it and an Aladdin lamp (yes we are all immediately thinking Disney!).  Captain Todd is really nice and we have already learnt so much from him in just a couple of days. He also must be very trusting as he quickly let us all have a turn at the helm and decide our anchorage.

We spent the first night in Griffin bay, where we learnt how to drop the anchor. On our first full day the whales were shy so we did some hydrophone tests for ambient (background) noise and headed for Snug harbor, which was our second anchorage. On day two our luck changed and as soon as we set sail (well motor because of the lack of wind) we found the whales! It was so amazing!!!! It was really foggy in the morning so we couldn’t always see the whales but we could hear them through the hydrophone and their blows when they surface, then they would emerge from the fog. We headed back to snug harbor in the evening, and the weather was dramatically different with bright sunshine and few clouds – this called for a few hours ofreading and playing on the trampoline and soaking up the weather!

Day four at sea was the coolest day ever! We set off as normal but soon slowed down when we saw a bait ball and birds feeding on it. We were going to try and catch some fish for Russell Barsh back at the labs when a Minke whale surfaced right in the

middle of the birds we were looking at! Then we saw another – it was sooooooooo cool, i even got some blow recordings. After a while the whales became less frequent and we were just chilling at the back of theboat when a seal pup came up right next to the boat (i could even see his flippers moving as he swam), i thought he would swim off but instead he swam right up to our back steps and a tried to climb on the boat!!! When that failed he swam through the middle of the hulls and under the trampoline!!!! It was very cool. We had to get moving after that and we all thought that would be the thing to write home about but it got even better! We headed out to false bay to catch up with the Orcas, and put our hydrophones in to get some recordings and i got my first successful in air recordings of the Orcas. I was merely recording after lunch when a group of females with their calves started performing some really cool behaviours. My recording was so funny it started out very sciency with me saying things like “female, j-pod, traveling, 150m” and as they got closer it changed to “oh my gosh i can’t believe what im seeing” as they started a greeting display with tail slaps, breeches, pectoral slaps, rolls and above surface calls (and i recorded it!). We were just processing what we had seen when out of the corner ouf our eyes we saw a sealion come up and joined the killer whales! Very weird – were they sharing food!!? On the way home we came across Dalls and Harbor porpoises bow riding with another boat! So our pinnipeds got larger and the day went on but our cetaceans got smaller!

After a couple of quiet days, we got the chance to see bow riding up close. We were heading back to Friday Harbor labs for an overnight stop off when 5 porpoises (4 Dalls and 1 hybrid) stared bow riding the catamaran! They were so close we could feel the splash as they surfaced.

We are now back on land,ready for showers and excited to start our second week at sea tomorrow 🙂 x x

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