From the Australian Antarctic Division:
Whale expedition heads south
Wednesday, 03 February 2010
The largest collaborative whale research voyage ever undertaken is on its way to Antarctica.
Seventeen scientists and support personnel sailed out of Wellington today towards the Ross Sea and adjacent Southern Ocean area.
For the next six weeks, led by the Australian Antarctic Division‘s Dr Nick Gales, the Australian, New Zealand and French research team will study humpback whales, Antarctic minke whales, and blue whales in the quest to better understand them.
Dr Gales, who heads the Australian Marine Mammal Centre, says that information gained from this trip will give greater insight into the little-known facts about how whales interact with sea ice and how they use their environment, providing critical information to assist in the future conservation of whales.
More than one hundred satellite tags will be deployed onto the whales to enable researchers to keep track of their movements over the coming months as they head north to their breeding grounds.
At the same time, other non-lethal methods such as biopsies, acoustics and hydrographic surveys will be employed.
The findings from this expedition, together with aerial surveys carried out this season close to the Antarctic continent will be presented in a report to the next International Whaling Commission meeting in June.
In the meantime, it has been a busy time for the scientists – each, specialists in their field – preparing for the trip south. For the tight-knit group of whale specialists the voyage is the culmination of two years’ planning.
The voyage, aboard New Zealand’s RV Tangaroa, will return in mid-March.
Researchers have set sail from New Zealand to study whales off Antarctica without killing them, an open challenge to Japan‘s killing of up to 1,000 whales a year in the name of science.
Scientists on Shetland believe they may have discovered a previously-unobserved technique being used by killer whales to catch herring: here.
Huge Fin whale strands in Cornwall: here.
Iceland whale meat exports defy EU law: here.
April 2010. A new proposal announced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) would, if adopted, for the first time in 25 years, endorse the killing of whales in their most precious feeding grounds, the Southern Ocean: here.
UK Paper’s Investigation Alleges Japan Offered Bribes, Hookers to Small Nations in Exchange for Blocking Whaling Ban: here.
World’s largest Humpback population threatened by Western Australia plan to create massive industrial zone in the Kimberley: here.
The calving of the Mertz Glacier tongue in February 2010 exposed a large section of the sea floor, about 80 km long and over 30 km wide, enabling access to an area where no information currently exists. Using an underwater camera, a team of scientists and technicians from Geoscience Australia and the Australian Antarctic Division collected the first images of the sea floor and the marine animals that live there: here.
- Antarctic blue whale new research (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Japanese whaling conflict with Australia (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Humpback whales, new research (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Japanese whaling ships returning to hunting grounds: Paul Watson (japandailypress.com)
- Tracker reveals whaling vessel turn-around (abc.net.au)
- Each annual Antarctic whaling season costs Japanese taxpayers 10 million dollars, says IFAW (en.mercopress.com)
- Japan will never stop whaling: fisheries chief (japantimes.co.jp)