Antarctic blue whale voyage 2013
The 2013 Antarctic Blue Whale Voyage – or VWhale – departs from Nelson, New Zealand on board the MFV Amaltal Explorer on January 29, 2013. Spending 48 days at sea the research area will include waters west of the Ross Sea; the area from the Davis Sea and west across the top of Prydz Bay. This area has been identified for survey work through blue whale sightings, acoustic detections and blue whale historical catch data.
This 2013 Antarctic Blue Whale Voyage will build on the results of the Australia-New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition that took place in the Ross Sea in 2010.
The science employed in the blue whale project uses non-lethal methods. The research objectives for the 2013 Antarctic blue whale voyage include:
- Objective 1: The assessment and refinement of passive acoustic methods for locating Antarctic blue whales.
- Objective 2: The collection of photographic data and biopsies for individual identification of blue whales.
- Objective 3: Link passive acoustic data with whale behaviour.
- Objective 4: Collection of distance sampling data for a survey-region level abundance estimate of Antarctic blue whales and other cetacean species.
- Objective 5: Deployment of satellite tags to describe the movement and foraging behaviour of Antarctic blue whales.
The use of acoustic tracking during the voyage will increase scope for encounter rates with blue whales, and will yield measurements of the source level of many Antarctic blue whale vocalisations. Using directional sonobuoys the resonant sounds of blue whales are audible between 10-100 km, as opposed to sightings which are typically under 10 km. The acoustic tracking techniques were successfully tested in the Bonney Upwelling in northern Bass Strait during January and March 2012.
Researchers and voyage participants
The scientists and support staff of the Antarctic blue whale voyage are at the forefront of innovation in non-lethal scientific research.