During the early AM underwater session – Carmella presents her new calf!
You may remember from early field reports that both Carmella and Gracie were pregnant. From ultrasound readings they were predicted to deliver their calves in mid-late October. Well, Carmella delivered this morning! I always do a few minute view at the surface prior to entering the water for a session. Nothing seemed amiss this morning – no additional critters seen. Everything seemed “normal” when I was filming underwater – no extra vocalizations, no posturing or odd behaviors. Then, at about 13 min into the session, I saw what I at first thought was Mrs. B and Mr. French and I was immediately concerned. Mr French looked wrinkled and ill … and almost immediately my brain readjusted and realized that this was Carmella and likely a new calf! The view was brief so I stopped and waited to see if they’d pass by once more. (My team told me later they were concerned because all of a sudden I was making odd squealing sounds through my snorkel!) Indeed, Carmella and her new calf swam almost directly at me and then by me – almost as if she was showing her new creation to me. What a cutie. We do not yet know the sex of her calf because Carmella is a bit shy and won’t come closer than 2-3 m. They calf stayed right by her side in echelon and was breathing on its own. Its flukes and dorsal fin were curled and folded over and the fetal folds were VERY pronounced! New calves “bob” at the surface when taking a breath – they over shoot the surface and do what’s termed “corking”. This calf was no exception and we had fun participating in surface watches throughout the day. Bruce will let us know whether I’ll get one more underwater observation session in tomorrow morning. If all seems okay, then I’ll go in for a 30 or 60 min session and maybe get a better view of Carmella and her calf — but, only if she chooses to come closer to me. What a way to almost finish our second RIMS field season! Cheers Kathleen