Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

The Day of the Minkes
by -- February 9th, 2013

Yesterday Andy mentioned how difficult it can be to tag minke whales since they are so elusive and fast.  And yet we were lucky enough to get 2 satellite tags on them!

Minke Whale

Well folks, then February 9th came around, which from here on out shall be referred to as “The Day of the Minkes.”

This morning, we entered trusty Wilhelmina Bay in hopes of deploying a few more satellite tags onto humpbacks.  Much to our surprise, instead of finding masses of humpbacks in the Bay like we do in the fall, we only ran into a few pairs.  Instead we found tons of minke whales hanging out in the Bay –  they were everywhere!  At one point their were about 25 hanging out by the Point Sur.

To make things even better, theses minkes were often traveling in large groups (4-20 individuals) and many would allow us to drive right up to them and essentially “join” their group.  They were also very social, swimming belly-to-belly, upside down and interacting with each other.  This behavior was optimal for us to deploy more tags on these elusive animals.

Approaching a Minke Whale for tagging

At the end of the day we had deployed 8 satellite tags onto minke whales. That’s right folks – I said 8!!!  During one particularly manic period just before lunch we deployed five tags in 24 minutes.  This is definitely a new record and we are all very giddy!

We were also able to get 2 more satellite tags onto humpbacks and 18 biopsy samples from minkes and humpbacks. I would say that “The Day of the Minkes” was one of our most successful ever.

1 Comment

  1. Sally Kleberg
    Feb 10, 2013

    So excited to be connected to your blog. I have made two trips to Antarctica and consider it THE place to go and hang out with the extraordinary fauna if one goes anywhere at all.
    I am right ere with you. Clearly the minkes smell like fellows among you. How very exciting to have the chance to be among so many in one day and place.
    Happy tagging

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff