Sperm Whale Research

Sperm Whale Research

Sperm Whale Research

Dive In
Location

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Partners

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)

Release Date

Winter 2013

Location

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Partners

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)

Release Date

Winter 2013

A groundbreaking complete study of Kaikoura sperm whales.

Mission Overview

Tracking Giants

Sperm whales were detected, located, and tracked at the offshore mouth of Kaikoura Canyon, using a directional hydrophone. Whales were approached with a zodiac to: 1) attach DTAGs, digital acoustic recording tags, using a handheld pole, 2) measure blow flow rate with a pole-mounted flow meter, 3) undertake thermal video recording of exhalations, 4) operate a small hexacopter to obtain aerial video and still imagery of the animal and, 5) collect available fecal samples for stress hormone analysis and sloughed skin for stable isotope analysis. 

Findings & Firsts

Two previously uncatalogued whales were identified. For the first time in this habitat, a valuable series of DTAG data records were obtained from 7 individuals over a total of 35 hours. In addition, respiratory methods for field measurement of metabolic rate were further developed and field tested for the first time, plus infrared video of blows were obtained. At sea deployment of a hexacopter was successfully achieved and aerial photogrammetry images of sperm whales were acquired. Skin and fecal samples were successfully collected. A paper summarizing some of this data has been peer reviewed and a revised version is under consideration for publication.

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