BROKE west marine science
Minke Whale populations
Recent observational studies suggest the population of minke whales in the Southern Ocean may have declined. However, visual counts of minke whales have led to varying population estimates. During BROKE-West, scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and Deakin University will use passive acoustic technology to correlate suspected minke whale vocalisations with visual observations. The catch is that no-one knows what minke whales sound like.
Sonabuoys will be used to listen for unidentified sounds that could come from minke whales. Scientists will then determine if the sounds can be correlated with visual observations. The technique has proved successful with humpback, fin and blue whales. If minke vocalisations are recorded, the team could deploy passive acoustic devices under the sea ice, to monitor populations throughout the year. The acoustic devices will also provide the team with a snapshot of the other 'vocal' marine life in the survey region.