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. 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.
Here’s a quick, fun story to start the week. Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari released this video of a blue whale that swam up to their boat. This is a once in a lifetime experience for all of these people.
"Common Rorqual and Sibbald's Rorqual or Blue Whale", by Archibald Thorburn,1920 chromolithograph. From NBWM Kendall Collection
From the category of “Timing is Everything” comes a story from the waters off Long Beach, CA. The presence of endangered blue whales off the CA coast had attracted enough attention to get an NBC News camera crew onto a whale watch boat. While on the water, they heard something that seems to have never been heard before by modern researchers, a whale vocalization made in the air. The video clip, which can be linked to via the previous hyperlink, can also be found here.
It’s possible, of course, that Yankee or other whalers witnessed this but never thought to write it down…or maybe someone did. Seems like a research project in the making.