HUMPBACK PRESENT IN ANTARCTIC WATER OVER WINTER A SURPRISE TO SCIENTISTS
James A. Foley/ Nature World News
Humpback whale researchers listening to underwater recordings got a surprise upon hearing data collected in Antarctic waters over winter. It had been assumed that all humpbacks migrate to equatorial waters during the winter, but acoustic data from underwater recording stations along the ice shelf revealed the sounds of humpback whales even during the austral winter months.
The find came by way of a classic case of being in the right place at the right time, when researcher Ilse Van Opzeeland, a marine biologist and expert on large whales, walked into her office at Antartica’s Neumayer Station III one morning in 2008 and switched on the monitor connected to a live-stream of underwater noise.
“I was totally surprised, because the textbook-opinion until that day was that humpback whales migrate to Antarctic waters only in the austral summer months,” said Van Opzeelandat, who is employed by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. “And even then, standing [beliefs] were that they would only be feeding on krill in the ice-free regions around 60 degrees south latitude.”
However Van Opzeelandat observed that the whale calls were being picked up by monitors in an area 70 degrees south, which was much farther south than any known humpback feeding grounds….
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- Photo : ITAW/Carsten Rocholl