Hunting the Ice Whales promo
Video transcriptHunting the Ice Whales promo
Beloved for their haunting song and approachability, there's still a lot we don't know about the might humpback. Now, a 42 day expedition led by the Australian Antarctic Division will send 16 whale biologists to the bottom of the world to study humpbacks, minkes and other great whales that inhabit these frozen seas. Whale biologist Nick Gales wants to present vital new data to the international whaling commission. Nick Gales: "The information that is really required for conservation management of whales is derived from non-lethal techniques. That's a simple fact." Once underway, there's no turning back. Nick Gales: "All we need is a few cooperative whales." (Men in boat yelling)
Macquarie Island life
Dr James Doube
It's a pretty amazing place to live. It's, both from a community sense, you're with a group of really interesting people who've genuinely done a wide variety of things before and come down here, not because it's just another job but because they're wanting that greater experience or that interaction with the environment. It's almost like living in some sort of nature documentary. There are so many animals packed in such a small space. Most of the animals that we think about living in the Antarctic don't actually want to have their babies on the ice so many of the seals, the albatrosses and many species of penguin that may feed further south want to lay their eggs on the last bit of sort of normal green-covered dirt rather than ice and that's what Macquarie Island represents.
Boiling to freezing in seconds at Mawson station!
“Come on outside.
I've got here, freshly boiled water … and extreme cold.
If I throw this up into the air, the water won't hit the ground. It will come out as ice crystals. Watch carefully…
All of it actually froze, before the water hit the ground.
Minus 28 out here. It's fresh! I'm going back inside.”
Dr Aleks Terauds explains Antarctic bioregions
Dr Aleks Terauds
Australian Antarctic Division Terrestrial Biologist
Some of the research that was released this week was involved with looking at the bio-regionalisation of Antarctica and how terrestrial Antarctica can actually be divided up into 15 biologically distinct regions.
What we did in this analysis was we gathered together as much biodiversity information as we could, over 38,000 records, of things that live in terrestrial Antarctica and we put all this together in some spatial frameworks to work out what was different and what was similar to each other.
The 15 regions encompass all of Antarctica. On the northern peninsula for example, the Antarctic Peninsula, which is close to South America you get some grasses and cushion plants growing there for example that you don’t get growing anywhere else in Antarctica. We go across to East Antarctica you still get things like large moss beds which represent some of the most productive vegetation on the Antarctic continent. And then at the other extreme you have the dry valleys in the Ross Sea region.
The implications of these areas are quite important for movements within Antarctica. By showing that these 15 regions are biologically different to each other we also know that we have to be careful moving within these regions within Antarctica. We also have to think about bio-security measures that are needed to prevent the transfer of life and the homogenisation of biodiversity. 7
At the moment we have a very good starting framework for bio-security protocols in existence already. The tourism industry and through the Council for Managing National Antarctic Programs have got very good protocols in place and they’re effective. I think we have a good starting point and I think that there is scope for further development into the future.
It’s really only in the last few years that people are travelling to so many different parts of Antarctica from so many different locations and so we are actually starting at a pretty good point in terms of trying to make sure that we don’t transfer to much biodiversity between these unique regions. There’s no doubt that it’s probably happened in small areas of Antarctic already, but we are hoping now with this new research and perhaps development of better protocols that we can stop it into the future.