Of dolphins and goodbyes

Written Thursday evening:

Today was bittersweet. We saw seabirds and one that was lost at sea.  We woke up to find a female Yellow warbler hitchhiking on the ship – a nice little treat for birders, probably not so nice for the poor warbler, who must have blown off course. When we awoke we were well offshore, headed northeast toward Astoria. During the first shift of observations someone spotted dolphins! As we got closer, we realized there were about 80 of them – Pacific white-sided dolphins – riding the bow waves. Right after they left a pod of Northern right whale dolphins appeared. This was even exciting for Dr. Torres, our marine mammalogist. These dolphins have no dorsal fin and purportedly look like the extremely endangered Northern right whale.


Northern right whale dolphin, named for the extremely endangered Northern right whale

We didn’t see many whales today, but throughout the day we spotted birds galore – Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, Black-foot albatross, Sabin’s gulls, Fork-tailed storm petrel, Cassin’s auklets, Marbled murrelets, and many gulls. We also saw an Albacore tuna and several Mola-mola (ocean sunfish). Incredible sightings.

A short video of some of the many dolphins that swam around our bow:

The bitter part of the day came near the end when we had to say goodbye to our scientists and Warrenton High School teacher Josh Jannusch.


We say goodbye to the scientists and Josh

Now we are motoring up the Columbia River – it will take us about 10 hours on the Columbia to reach the Willamette. We expect to arrive in Portland at about 6:30 tomorrow morning, and we are all planning to get up at 4:30 to see the bridges.


Not all fun and games: Natalie and Leland doing homework

Next challenge: giving tours of the Oceanus tomorrow.


Good night!

16 thoughts on “Of dolphins and goodbyes

  1. Ms. Almasi
    It’s awesome that you guys got to see and learn so much about these dolphins! While I was on a cruise going to the Carribeann dolphins would swim near our boat just like you described. Also, i’m really happy you guys got to give the little bird a ride back, it’s adorable.
    ~Chas Walch

  2. Hi Mrs.Almasi. Hope your having a fun time on your trip. I love how your very specific on the animals you come across to. I have always wanted to go swimming with dolphins. I was wondering don’t you get very tired waking up at 4:30 in the morning? Anyway have a nice journey. Goodbye – Heidy Vera – Romero

    • Heidy,
      I do get tired of waking up that early, but I seem to work better in the morning than in the evening. Can’t wait to see you all today!

  3. Dear Mrs. Almasi,
    I enjoyed your enthusiasm in talking about your sightings of sea life! I too enjoy getting to see whales, dolphins, sea birds, and other creatures when i am out as see with my grandfather. I find it neat that you were able to witness those endangered wildlife, but I was confused as to what their name was. You said their name was the Northern right whale, but that they were named after the extremely endangered Northern right whale. Overall, I enjoyed this post and will be happy to see you back in the classroom Monday! -Wyatt Schrock

    • Wyatt,
      It’s kind of crazy, but sailors named that dolphin after the Northern Right Whale because both species are lacking a dorsal fin. Personally I don’t think they look like the whale at all!

  4. Sounds like a fun trip! I loved reading your blogs throughout the week and I can’t wait to hear more when you get back. I’ve always wanted to take a trip on a boat, getting to see all those birds and dolphins must have been a pretty sight! Did the scientists get the information they were looking for? and was this trip everything you thought it would be? We look forward to hearing all about it.

    • It was an incredible trip, Haley. I loved learning how the researchers gather their population data, loved helping them, and wish I could have taken you all with me.

  5. Dear Ms. Almasi,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog. It is so cool that you were able to see so many whale and dolphins up close, not many people get to experience something as unique as that. I have always been interested in marine life, so I am very glad you were able to write and take pictures of what you saw. It sounds like it was a fun trip!

  6. Hi Mrs. Almasi,
    It was great to hear about the dolphins. It must have been incredible to see so many dolphins. I do not think I have seen many dolphins in my life and I bet you will always remembers seeing all those.

  7. Hi Mrs. Almasi, I am commenting on your blog because of how interesting I found it to be. I really like how informative it was on the different species you saw, like the dolphins, and the birds you mentioned. I also really enjoyed your enthusiasm for the topics. I once went on deep sea fishing trip, and just like you I saw many different species, and animals. I am very glad you enjoyed you expedition, and I hope you get to do it again so i many read about it once.

  8. Hi Mrs. Almasi,
    I found this blog really intriguing and funny. I wish that I was on the boat with you seeing the dolphins. This blog has lots of information and facts that made it fun and interesting. How big were the dolphins? Because in the picture you gave us I coulnt really tell the size. I hope you had a great trip.
    – Rivers Bouchat

    • Hi Rivers!
      Both species I saw are about 7 or 8 feet long. It’s hard to tell when they’re in the water.

      You should think about applying for that trip in a couple years.

  9. Hi Mrs.Almasi,
    It’s really awesome that you were able to see that many dolphins! I know a lot of people, including myself have never been that close to that many endangered species. Do you know the size of the Northern right whale dolphin? I imagine the size of it is fairly large, but you really didn’t explain how big they were. Overall, I really I could tell just how much you enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife.

    • Hi Abby,
      I believe they are about 7 or 8 feet long – definitely taller than you & I. 🙂

      You should think about applying for that opportunity in a year and a half.

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