Aerial assistance for whale acoustics team

Antenna kite being launched off the back of the ship
Antenna kite being launched off the back of the ship (Photo: Carlos Olavarria)

7th February 2013

We have just passed 60°S and officially entered Antarctic waters, the ocean temperature has now plunged to a chilly3°C. Although we have practiced our “man overboard” drill many times, in these frigid waters we would be in grave danger of hypothermia from immersion. Any of the crew venturing out on our small boats are required to wear full immersion suits to increase the odds if an accident does occur. On board the ship we have a containerised medical facility and a doctor, who has trained us in recognising hypothermia and frostbite.

A dawn chorus of Antarctic blue whales excited our acoustics team today, but unfortunately the sea fog obscured them from view. In the meantime, we have taken advantage of a steady breeze to launch a modified kite carrying an acoustics antenna. We are hoping the additional height gained with the kite will allow us to pick up whale songs from further afield. The kite flew beautifully off the back of the ship, but the signal strength needs improvement.

The team has received a boost with the confirmation the pygymy blue whales we encountered on 31 January are the first observer-verified recording of that subpopulations song.

All expeditioner eyes are now scanning the horizon for our first iceberg and tomorrow we are hoping to reach the ice edge to start our research in earnest.

This page was last modified on August 24, 2015.