Monday, October 31, 2011

Another exciting day for the crew of "Wild Whale." (That's our research vessel). Today we worked with two groups of pilot whales that had merged into a single group. Four of these animals had been satellite tagged earlier in the trip, allowing us to find them rather easily. Conditions were also calm (from Beaufort sea states of 0-2). We we arrived at the group, the first task was testing Russ Andrews ECG (electrocardiogram) tag designed to measure whale heart rates using a suction-cup tag. This tag deployed well giving us the time and opportunity to test our Dtag3 on Hawaiian pilot whales.  Daniel Webster skillfully attached the Dtag and the pilot whale swam with it for ~ 4hrs. A quick look a the data shows resting behavior of the animal with some social sounds and shallow dives. The tagged animal below had a small mark from a cookie-cutter shark bite just below the Dtag site. In the pics below note the tag on the pilot whale, and the pilot whale traveling closely with a conspecific. These two animals traveled close before, during and after the tag duration, thus it will be exciting to examine potential acoustic communication between the two animals!
Dtag on a pilot whale. Tag stayed on for 4 hrs.
Tagged whale (background) and neighbor whale.

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