Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

Wilhelmina Bay (Wed.,5/12/10) – Small boats out, Observers on the bridge, Tag-on!
by -- May 13th, 2010

Today began our first full day of whale observations, krill mapping and whale tagging. And what a spectacular day it was.

After a night of oceanographic surveys we awoke to a chilly, misty morning near the opening of Wilhelmina Bay. We were all in anticipation of getting our first tag of the season on a whale. With the ice extensive cover we saw in the Bay the day before I was concerned about finding whales in the vicinity and our ability to work the small boats in the ice, especially the krill mapping boat which hauls a large, ice-catching, sonar transducer under the stern.  Misty Morning

The teams prepared for the day with observers on top scanning for whales and the tag boat and prey boat teams assembling gear for deployment. The tag boat launched first while we assembled the transducers (sonar sounders) for the krill mapping boat. Then we launched the krill mapping “prey boat” and set out to meet the tag boat. While in route we heard the words we had been hoping for on the radio… “tag-on!”. Our first whale of the cruise had been tagged with a 24 hour. Now we would follow this whale for the next full day.

Cool Berg

Right after the tag went on, a thick bank of fog rolled in leaving us searching for the tag boat and the tagged whale. We caught up to the tag boat and began our krill mapping survey in the area around the whale.

The fog was short-lived and when it blew off we were treated to a truly spectacular day on the water. A perfectly clear sky rimmed on horizon by jagged Antarctic peaks surrounded us on multiple sides. The blows of whales silhouetted on the horizon all around, rafts of penguins, fur seals and Antarctic seabirds darting in and out. It was the type of day on the water you wish you could bottle up and store away because it is too much to take in all at once.

P4120049 - boat

The small boats stayed out until dark (a very premature 4:00pm). When we returned we met up with the rest of the team who reported an equally spectacular day from the observer platform of the N.B. Palmer. 87 Humbacks and 1 Minke observed from the Palmer. Back to work we have a whale to track.

 

-Pat

4 Comments

  1. Barret Sinclair
    May 14, 2010

    Future Tagger

    I wish i could do something like this when i am old enough. My aquascience teacher, Ms. O’niell, went on this trip last year and has told us all about it. It sounds like loads of fun. this post just makes me want to do it so much more.

    your friend, Barret Sinclair

  2. Michelle Glover
    May 14, 2010

    Amazing Experience

    This article describes a great informational experience. I could not imagine being able to tag a whale and track it in the waters of Antarctica. The description of the mountains and the Antarctic animals also sounds amazing. It definitely would be a day I could not take in all at once.

  3. Mom
    May 14, 2010

    Ari

    Ari,

    Buckle your seat belt.

    Love, Mom

  4. Claire Jones
    May 18, 2010

    Thank You!

    I think it is amazing that y’all have the opportunity to tag the whales and observe them. I can not even begin to imagine such an experience! Thank you for sharing your adventures with us!

©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