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Antarctic scientific whale research reaches new heights during popular expedition cruise.

April 27, 2017 Cruise No Comments Email Email

Collaboration between Polar Expeditions Cruise Specialist, One Ocean Expeditions and acclaimed marine mammal biologists and scientists leads to critical information on Antarctic whale behavior that can protect fragile polar ecosystem and natural whale habitat.

Australian and US scientists including Dr. Ari Friedlaender, One Ocean Expeditions’ leading marine mammals biologist on Antarctic whales scientific research and Assistant Professor at University of Oregon, were recently conducting field research work off the Antarctic Peninsula. With drone technology the team of experts were able to capture groundbreaking insights on the feeding behaviour of whales.

The team of scientists attached non-invasive suction cup camera tags with 3D motion sensors, which fall off approximately 24 to 48 hours later. Upon retrieving the devices, the researchers were able to study the recordings showing the feeding behavior of the humpback whales, including lunge feeding into the abundant tight swarms of krill found in the Antarctic Ocean at this time of the year. Not only did it show footage, but it also recorded their exact movements and the depths of each dive.

“We have some wonderful data on different feeding strategies from rolling lunges near the surface, to bubble net feeding, to deep foraging dives lunging through dense patches of krill,” leading whale scientist Dr. Ari Friedlaender said in a statement obtained by PhysOrg, a leading Web-based science, research and technology news service. “We have been able to show that whales spend a great deal of time during the days socializing and resting and then feeding largely throughout the evening and night time,” Friedlaender added.

The data captured by the cameras will not only help scientists understand the feeding patterns, social habits and the role in the Antarctic ecosystem that whales play, but it will also help them determine how any change in krill populations affect these magnificent creatures. By understanding these, the researchers will be able to come up with measures to help protect their environment.


Meanwhile, longer-term tags called LIMPET tags were attached to minke whales, essentially because these mammals are faster and more elusive than humpback whales. The tags will transmit data for approximately two to three months. “This work is part of a long-term ecological research study to better understand the divergent impacts of climate change on the ice-dependent minke whales and more open-water humpback whales in this part of the Antarctic,” says Elanor Bell, Australian whale research scientist from the Australian Antarctic Division.

“We are very proud to support leading-edge research, as well as offer the opportunity for One Ocean Expeditions’ guests and staff to meet and interact with acclaimed marine biologists and scientists in the intimate setting our expedition cruise vessels provide. It’s not everyday travellers can witness renowned scientists at work and experience such close encounters with Antarctic whales and wildlife”, says, Andrew Prossin, Managing Director at One Ocean Expeditions. “The 2017 Antarctic cruise season, particularly our Marine Mammals of Antarctica expedition cruise was one to remember!” Prossin added.

One Ocean Expeditions is committed to supporting ongoing ethical science and outreach programs with opportunities available to accredited institutions on each voyage. A leader in polar expedition cruising, One Ocean Expeditions operates voyages to the Antarctic from the end of October to end of March.

To view the spectacular drone footage please visit:

*Permit number for drone: ACA Permit 2016-024, 2017-034

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