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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tagging a fin whale

I have arrived in the tiny town of Long-pointe-de-Mingan and am enjoying the hospitality of the folks at the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS). Due to bad weather we were unable to head out on the water on the first day so - we found the next best thing and practiced! Of course we don't use our hands to do the tagging but this gives you an idea of what the tag looks like (note it attaches to the whale via a suction cup). The last picture shows Rene using the VHF system to track the tagged whale. The beeping gets stronger and louder when the whale comes up to the surface and we can follow it from a distance until the tag automatically pops off at a stipulated time - ready for collection!

The data you get about the whale's dive behaviour includes acceleration, depth, temperature and direction allowing you to visualise exactly what the whale was doing underwater. Its amazing what we can learn using non-invasive techniques like this one.

This beautiful replica of a fin whale is in the MICS museum. DEFINITELY worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. Its small but has so much information and the murals and sculptures are truly fantastic. The team members give visitors a tour and explain all the science behind studying these great creatures. They also run whale watch tours or you can join a researcher on the water - check them out at www.rorqual.com

On a final note - I went for a walk on the beach and saw my first minke whale swimming around not more than 50 m off shore. I am SO excited to be here!

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