Monday, 29 September 2014

Migration Update #3

We have passed the one-month mark since deployment of our first tag and what a month it has been!

One month ago we did not know how 'easily' humpback whales commute between the islands of Oceania. ['commuting' is a type of animal movement behavior distinct from migration, homing, dispersing, etc.]

One month ago we did not know that the migratory corridor between Rarotonga and American Samoa was so popular. [112697.14 and 120946.14 are swimming the route as at least a pair as I type!]

One month ago we did not know that humpback whales would swim more than 2000km across the tropics - roughly one-half the distance to the closest feeding grounds - only to come back to the same place they were at three weeks earlier! [this makes little sense considering the lack of food in tropical waters]

Rarotonga Humpback Whale Satellite Track Map - Sept. 29, 2014

Meanwhile, Nan and the team SOMEHOW have recovered tag #87625 - the one that got deflected by a wave just as it was about to deploy! Last I heard, it was sitting on 46 meters down just outside Avana Harbour, when all of a sudden - PING! - a location shows up on my Argos satellite map. Unreal.

I've been doing all I can to educate and raise awareness regarding Oceania's endangered humpback whales (when not checking Argos or teaching here at U.Canterbury). The kind folks at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand even invited me to give them an interview on our research. Thanks much Jamiela, Michael, Laura, Ola, Tracey, Rob, Candy and all the good people at the embassy! You can link to the interview below (it's 20 minutes long - what can I say...I'm excited!).