A Huge but Elusive Animal: Tracking Blue Whales in Icy Waters

Researchers from Australia have begun tracking Antarctic blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) using sonobuoys, satellite tags and biopsy darts. Enduring bitterly cold conditions these individuals are working hard to help us learn more about the Antarctic subspecies of largest animal ever to live on our planet.  This video clip gets the viewer up close to both these enormous animals and to the dedicated people performing this research.  A related story from Reuters News Service provides more information and commentary from the researchers.

Blue whale study done by RIchard Ellis, in preparation for Jacobs Gallery mural. The distinctive throat pleats of all rorquals are clearly visible in this image.  From NBWM collections, 2000.10.

Blue whale study done by RIchard Ellis, in preparation for Jacobs Gallery mural.  From NBWM collections, 2000.10.

Sadly, it is estimated that by the time industrial whalers agreed to stop hunting all blue whales in 1966, only 1% of the original population of approximately 200,000 Antarctic blues remained.  Such was the efficiency of the floating factories that processed the whales brought to them by catcher boats that used cannon-fired harpoons.

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