Aquarium Researchers Spot Rare Blue Whales Off the CT Coast
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...Balaenoptera musculus?
Also commonly known as the "Blue Whale" by its friends in the deep blue sea, researchers recently concluded that the largest animals on Earth (land or ocean) are closer to the Connecticut Coast than they thought, according to the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life.
After seeing a group of 50 bottlenose dolphins, The NEAq (New England Aquarium) Aerial Survey Team researchers Amy Warren and Orla O'Brien spotted two blue whales on a February 9th trip to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, just 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The first blue whale was seen directly over the Oceanographer Canyon, which is the national park's deepest canyon being measured at over 4,000 feet deep.
According to the Anderson Cabot Center, blue whales are a rare sight to see in the Atlantic Ocean as only a few hundred remain. Despite being commonly spotted near deep canyons, the endangered species is projected to have only 250 animals left in the Northwest Atlantic ocean.
Understandably, to see one, let alone two of these precious whales grace the monument right off the Connecticut Coast was an exciting find for the two scientists. Not only was the sighting rare in itself, but one of the two blue whales also had a special sighting history dating back to the year 2000.
After the six-hour aerial survey of the underwater national park was over, the team found a total of 322 whales and dolphins. The Anderson Cabot Center reports that 17 of those whales belonged to different species, but only one was the true highlight of their inaugural winter trip to the Northeast Canyons: the blue whale.
With this exciting discovery comes an even stronger, anxious, extremely unrealistic hope for us to witness, on one hot summer day in the middle of August, an organismal behemoth of a sea elephant gracefully flop its body out then back into the water on the near horizon of one of our local Connecticut beaches. They're getting closer, so get your popcorn and sunscreen ready this summer: the blue whale, coming to a beach near you.