South shore spectacle: Humpback whales have been seen in their droves thanks to an unusual bout of good weather this month. Humpbacks are commonly seen in March and April as they migrate northwards along the South Shore. This photo was taken from the BAMZ whale watching trip on Saturday. <em>*Photo by Andrew Dobson</em>
South shore spectacle: Humpback whales have been seen in their droves thanks to an unusual bout of good weather this month. Humpbacks are commonly seen in March and April as they migrate northwards along the South Shore. This photo was taken from the BAMZ whale watching trip on Saturday. *Photo by Andrew Dobson
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FRIDAY, MARCH 23: An unusually prolonged period of beautiful, hot weather and calm seas appears to have led to record numbers of whales being identified in the month of March.

Great numbers of humpback whales pass though Bermuda during the months of March and April on their way from their breeding grounds in the south to the feeding areas of the northern Atlantic.

However, winter storms usually hinder whale-watching trips in the early part of the season making it difficult or near impossible to spot the majestic animals on a regular basis.

Wild life videographer Choy Aming said: “The weather has made it more accessible this year — people have been able to get out a lot more. We have had about nine days of unusually nice weather in a row for this time of year. Normally we would get one to two days of weather of that calibre.

Plankton bloom

“There is also a huge plankton bloom right now. Despite how nice the weather is, the visibility, even out at the banks (Challenger and Argus), is only about 40 feet.

“It is so thick with life right now and I think that’s why we are getting such a good show.”

Andrew Stevenson of the Humpback Whale Research Project, Bermuda has been collecting visual and acoustic data of our migrating whales since 2007. Through photographs, he has been identifying individual whales by their unique fluke markings which are then sent to Allied Whale — the marine mammal research group at the College of the Atlantic. Mr Stevenson says that this year has “by far” surpassed previous years’ numbers in terms of the number individual flukes he has identified as part of his research.

He said: “This year we have had 122 individual fluke IDs in ten days. We have matched five re-sightings in the full catalogue of 450. Some people are saying it’s all about global warming and the whales are coming early but these statistics tell me that is not the case.

“The whales tend to come back in the same week almost. Last year we had 150 individual fluke IDs and about 30 of those were re-sightings to the previous four years.

“We don’t have as many re-sightings this year for a very simple reason — because we are not usually out there in March to see them. We’ve not had the ten-day period where we can go out every day.

“We normally have the winter storms so when we get out we don’t see them.”

To add to the spectacle of the whales, Stevenson also reported seeing a pod of 50 spinner dolphins and swimming with four sperm whales which are much less common in Bermuda’s waters.

To see footage by Choy Aming of the humpback whales on South Shore, watch today's NewsBite.