Tagging whales In the field
Ari Friedlaender, PhD from Oregon State University and his international team, are conducting science samples by tagging whales in Antarctica to improve the knowledge on Antarctic local and migratory pods.
Every season, humpback and minke whales migrate towards the Antarctic Peninsula to feed on the swarms of krill before the sea ice freezes. This is the ideal circumstance for marine mammal biologists to conduct research on whales. Ari Friedlaender has just returned from his first voyage: Antarctic Peninsula Adventure and shares his first research results:
On the last trip we were able to deploy three of our video-recording multi-sensor tags on humpback whales in the Penola and Gerlache Strait. Each tag stayed on the whale for ~30 hours and we have fantastic data on the diving behavior of each animal as well as some great video of them in their surroundings. We also collected 15 biopsy samples from humpback whales that will be used to help identify which population the whales are from, and if females are pregnant or not. We also deployed satellite tags on three minke whales which was a HUGE success! These whales were tagged around the Lemaire Channel are all still in the vicinity and we hope to find those whales again on our trip and check in on them!
The benefit of finding the animals again is that we can get a location with a hand held GPS and find out how accurate the satellite tag is. We can also see how the tag looks on the animal and if it is still in a good place to be able to collect data. We can also find out if the whale is with other whales which we can then also tag. Finally, we can assess the habitat that the whale is in to see if it compares with what we already know about minke whales. Lastly, we can fly our drone (UAS) over the tagged whale and get an accurate measurement of its length and body size which is very useful information to link to the movement patterns we see from the tag!
Missed part 1, 2 and 3? CLICK HERE to read more about Ari Friedlaender’s research.
Ari Friedlaender is a marine mammal biologist at Oregon State University. He works with international teams such as the Australian Antarctic Division on his research programs. Together they work on scientific studies and spread the word with the public to increase the awareness of whales in the ocean. Follow Ari’s work and stay up to date:
Oregon State University