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Antarctic scientific whale research reaches new heights with first ever Minke video tag!

February 21, 2018 Cruise No Comments Email Email

Collaboration between leading Polar Expedition Cruise Specialist, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) and California Ocean Alliance (Nationally Accredited World Class Ocean Research) has led to the first successful suction cup video tagging of a minke whale in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica. Known for their elusive behaviour and short surfacing times, minkes are a challenge to tag with suction cup technology and have previously only been tracked by LIMPET satellite location beacons, embedded in the superficial layer of surface skin.

Dr. Ari Friedlaender, director within California Ocean Alliance and resident whale biologist with One Ocean Expeditions, has been delivering educational programs onboard select OOE expeditions since 2012. “These shared values between One Ocean Expeditions and our research group at the California Ocean Alliance make for a potent and effective collaboration” says Ari. “Without this singular focus, we could not succeed, we could not learn, and we could not protect places like the Antarctic”.

“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 have been working diligently over the last decade to expand opportunities for nationally accredited research onboard”, says Catherine Lawton OOE’s General Manager. “We take great pride in our team of professionals and our fleet of hand selected ice-class vessels, on which we offer the ideal platform to deliver both exceptional client experience, funding and opportunities for scientists to collect critical data.”

Ari’s team were able to attach non-invasive suction cup camera tags with 3D motion sensors, provided by WWF-Australia, to the minke whales. These tags fell off approximately 24-48 hours later. Upon retrieving the devices, the researchers were able to study the recordings, which showed the feeding behavior of the minke whales, including lunge feeding and the expansion of throat pleats. The analysis of the data captured will allow the researchers to develop measures to protect fragile polar ecosystem and natural whale habitat worldwide.

One Ocean Expeditions is committed to funding and supporting ongoing, nationally accredited science and outreach programs. A leader in polar expedition cruising, One Ocean Expeditions operates voyages to the most remote areas of the world, from the High Arctic to Antarctica. Guests have the opportunity to get to know the scientists and to be educated on cutting-edge research initiatives – an important part of the One Ocean Expeditions experience.

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