It appears that scientists in Antarctica have, for the first time, attached a camera to a minke whale. This in an effort to gain a greater understanding of a whale species some scientists say is “poorly understood.”
And according to Dr. Ari Friedlaender, an associate professor from the University of California Santa Cruz and who is the lead scientist on the research, the camera (which is attached with suction cups) is already providing new information to the scientists.
“What’s amazing to me is how fast the minke swims and how quickly it can feed,” said Friedlaender, “The video showed the tagged minke moving at up to 24 kilometers per hour as it accelerates to feed. We could see individual feeding lunges and the expansion of the throat pleats as they filled with prey-laden water. What was remarkable was the frequency of the lunges and how quickly they could process water and feed again, repeating the task about every 10 seconds on a feeding dive. He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding.”
Since the research is being conducted in the Antarctica, the species of minke on which the camera was attached would be the Antarctic, or southern minke whale. The other species of minke whale is the common, or northern minke whale which can be found in the North Atlantic Ocean. And just to note, there are three subspecies of the common minke (just in case you needed to know that fact).
Unlike many other whale species, minke whales are not considered to be endangered. However, there is concern that climate change may be impacting the minke whales’ ecosystem as sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula is changing.
“Over the last 50 years, the number of days when sea ice covers the Antarctic Peninsula has decreased by about 80,” said Dr. Friedlaender. “For minkes and other ice-dependent species, that’s 80 fewer days with suitable habitat.”
WWF-Australia has provided funding for three ‘whale cams’ to help scientists better understand critical feeding areas in the Southern Ocean and the impact of shrinking ice caused by warming sea temperatures.
Chris Johnson, senior manager of WWF’s Antarctic Program said WWF would continue to advocate for more marine protected areas in Antarctica as they are vital to conserve biodiversity and are based on sound science saying, ““WWF is working with Dr. Friedlaender and his team to put his vital new information about whales before decision makers.”
Dr. Ari Friedlaender’s work is supported by OneOcean Expeditions and is in collaboration with scientists from Stanford University and the California Ocean Alliance.
It is conducted under permits granted from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Antarctic Conservation Act, including institutional animal care and use protocols.
The research is being conducted in collaboration with scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart and under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP). The aim of the Partnership is to implement and promote non-lethal whale research techniques to maximize conservation outcomes for Southern Ocean whales.
Photos by: Dr. Ari Friedlaender
Link to original press release: https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/whale-cam-attached-to-minke-in-a-world-first
For more information about minke whales http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/wildlife/animals/whales/minke-whale
For more information about endangered species go to www.Bagheera.com
For more information about endangered tigers go to www.TigersInCrisis.com
For more information about endangered earth go to www.EndangeredEarth.com