Antarctic whale expedition

This video about humpbacks is called Whale Hunting Krill in Antarctica – Planet Earth – BBC wildlife.

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.

The federal government isn’t ruling out support for an Australian Greens bill which would see anyone convicted of helping a whaling operation go to jail: here.

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.

Huge Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctica: 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.

10 thoughts on “Antarctic whale expedition

  1. U.S. study disputes increase in Antarctic minke whale population

    Feb 8 10:32 PM US/Eastern

    TOKYO, Feb. 9 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The population of Antarctic minke whales has not increased even after other larger whales in food competition were hunted, according to a recent study by U.S. researchers, countering arguments Japan cites as a reason for conducting what it calls research whaling.

    With larger species of whales including blue whales being intensely hunted in the late 20th century, Japan’s Fisheries Agency and researchers have hypothesized that Antarctic minke whales may have increased as a result of lesser competition for krill that they feed on.

    But researchers at Oregon State University and Stanford University calculated that the population size in the early 20th century was roughly 670,000, a figure similar to or slightly larger than current estimates from surveys of sightings.

    They analyzed genetic diversity of minke whales by purchasing 52 meat samples in Japanese markets to project the population number, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Ecology, posted online in December.

    Scott Baker, a researcher at Oregon State University, who conducted the analysis, said the latest results indicated the hypothesis by some scientists that the population has increased by three-fold to eight- fold over the last century is wrong.

    The Japanese agency has said in promoting the lethal research there are calls for “thinning” the Antarctic minke whale population as there is a possibility that it is hindering the recovery of the blue whale population.


  2. Pressure builds on Japanese whaling

    New Zealand: The government has declared that it will join Australia in seeking international legal action against Japan over its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic if negotiations fail to produce a diplomatic solution.

    On Friday, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that his government would take Japan to international court over its “research” whaling programme that kills hundreds of whales a year if Tokyo did not agree to stop the hunt by November.

    New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Monday that a diplomatic solution would be quicker than pursuing a case in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.


  3. Canberra calls for end to whaling

    Australia: The government has called for a gradual phasing out of whaling around the world in a proposal submitted to the International Whaling Commission, the environment minister said on Thursday.

    The proposal excludes aboriginal subsistence whaling – the hunting of whales by aboriginal groups who have a tradition of whaling.

    It also calls for whaling to be brought under the control of the commission so individual countries cannot unilaterally give permits for scientific whaling, a reference to Japan.


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