BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of researchers from the Australian Antarctic Division went on search for humpback and minke whales to try and attach camera tags to their bodies using suction cups. With these cameras, they want to take a look at what these whales eat, and how their eating habits might be affected by climate change or overfishing.
Dr. Elanor Bell, one of the researchers who is part of the AAD project, declared that their attempt was part of a long-term study looking at the behavior of these whales. In order not to hurt the whale populations, they came up with the idea of attaching camera tags from a distance.
Using suction cups to get the sensors attached to the whales
They put the tags at the end of long poles, and used suction cups to stick the cameras on the bodies of the whales. The camera is placed at the front of the tags, which use advanced technology and sensors of motion to capture all the images and data they need.
Thus, the sensors will record how deep the whale dives for food, how often it is rolling, or the pitch of its calls. Then it is the camera’s turn to record the places where the whale goes to get its food, if it chooses to swim among ice blocks, or it is meets other whales. So, the researchers can see how social the animal is and how it interacts with others.
The tag collects information, as well as a biopsy sample
After 48 hours, the camera tags fall off the whales. Then, they send a signal indicating their place, so that researchers should come and pick them up. Also, they take some samples from each individual they stick to. Thus, they would know if the whale was male or female and if the females were pregnant.
Surprisingly, the whales do not react aggressively when the researchers come to collect the samples. However, it is easier with the sleepy humpback whales than with the minke, which are more active and usually hide from predators in the sea ice.
Researchers hope that this study would extend to a longer period, during which they will be able to collect all the data they want on the lifestyle of the animals, their diet, the places they visit, and how they obtain their food.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons