Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

Nansen Island (Mon., 5/4/09) – Stage 8 of Radio Tracking
by -- May 5th, 2009

After two days of intense searching we managed to relocate and recover our wayward tag just before dusk this afternoon.

For most of last night and all of this morning we were convinced that the tag was floating close to the eastern shore of Nansen Island (ironically near an old whaling harbor named after Sven Foyn, the Norwegian inventor of the grenade-tipped harpoon).  After hours of fruitless searching, Ari suggested that the tag’s signal could be coming across the mountainous terrain of Nansen Island, so we brought the Gould around to the other side of the island and lo and behold – a strong, clear signal.  Then it took only a couple of hours to locate and recover the tag.

So, I am happy and grateful to inform you that we are indeed solidly in ‘Stage 8’ of radio tracking just two stages beyond where Dave J left off yesterday!!  Dave only got to Stage 6, when you hear that first blessed beep after many hours of white noise.  Stage 7 is when you narrow the location of those beeps, and Stage 8 is actually retrieving the darn thing.  And while we are indeed happily in Stage 8, it took us several  loops within stages 5-7.  We are now downloading the tag’s data and are eagerly awaiting our first look at our first overnight record of whale feeding behavior.

This was a truly impressive team effort, with the MTs and Bridge crew in full support of the charge led by crazy scientists chasing a tiny floating piece of electronics carrying a valuable data set!

Tonight Meng is conducting a series of CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) casts to study the physical composition of the water column, so that we can better understand the distribution of krill.  Tomorrow is another day – so we’ll be looking for whales to tag and track.  Stay tuned!


  1. Stingray
    May 6, 2009

    Woot woot!

    Congratulations on a great day!
    I just found out about this site–what a good idea. Keep up the awesome work! I’ll be sure to check back regularly!

  2. Ben
    May 6, 2009


    Tag recovered – well done! Strange transmission of radio waves through the island, eh? That must be the alien hideout.

  3. Sam
    Jun 15, 2009


    This is a very lovely post and I agree with you.

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