A whale of a tale

Hunting the Ice Whales promo

Video transcript

Hunting the Ice Whales promo
Duration 1:09
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)

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Hunting the Ice Whales
Hunting the Ice Whales
Tagged humpback whaleThe small boat Beluga and Shearwaters in the Southern OceanSmall boat Remora and humpback whalesBow of Beluga with Tangaroa in backgroundPod of humpback whales

A new documentary film following Australian Antarctic Division scientists undertaking non-lethal whale research in the Southern Ocean will premiere in Hobart.

Hunting the Ice Whales was produced by New Zealand filmmaker Max Quinn on the 2010 Australia-New Zealand-led research voyage to Antarctica.

Antarctic Division Chief Scientist, Dr Nick Gales, said the film documents the work of a team of 20 scientists on a six week voyage aboard the Tangaroa.

“The voyage was the first dedicated non-lethal whale research expedition to Antarctic waters as part of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership,” Dr Gales said.

“The team used cutting edge technology to track and study blue, humpback, minke, fin and sperm whales in their icy feeding grounds.

“Despite some challenging weather we were able to deploy 30 satellite tags, collect 64 skin biopsies, use sonobuoys to record whale vocalisations and capture 61 individual tail fluke identification photographs.”

The information gathered on the voyage has been presented to the International Whaling Commission.

“The voyage has helped us better understand the population structure, distribution, movement, feeding and ecological role of Southern Ocean whales,” Dr Gales said.

The film will be screened at the Australian and New Zealand Marine Sciences Conference.