2009 04 14 Six humpacks satellite-tagged in the Dominican Republic and two are heading our way! Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

Last year I was with a team that satellite-tagged five humpback whales on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic. Unfortunately those tags all came out of the whales in a matter of weeks.

This year the decision was made to tag whales later in the humpback season in the Caribbean so there would be greater chances of the tags staying during the whales' migration. Last week the NOAA/TONAH Project (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Tracking of North Atlantic Humpbacks) tagged six humpback whales, five females and one male.

Above is the second map from the 14th of April provided by Dr Philip Clapham, Leader, Cetacean Assessment & Ecology Program of the U.S. National Marine Mammal Lab and Dr Alex Zerbini at NOAA. This map depicts the movements of three humpback whales tagged last week on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic. (Two whales remain on the Silver Banks and one tag is not transmitting consistently). This information is beamed up by the tags located near each whale's dorsal fins to satellites. You can see that two of the whales are heading our way. I have the dorsal fin photographs of all six whales and if one or more passes this way, we might be able to identify it from the dorsal. Fluke id photographs were not obtained of the tagged whales so the dorsal fin will have to do. Watch this space for more developments!

Here is a photo of one of the satellite tags. You can see how unobtrusive it is to the whale.

 
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