Whale Biology – A Window into Our Oceans

Whales are the largest creatures on the planet, yet, like so many other fish, birds, and seals, they depend on tiny animals at the bottom of the oceans’ food chain to survive – krill. Krill, in turn, are the most plentiful protein source on the planet, and their abundance is tied to ocean health at a primary level – a system that in fact echoes global ecosystem stability.  In other words, an ocean full of krill is a biologically stable ocean, and that means our world is coping with natural and human initiated climate changes. The question is, how do we monitor this vital system?

Our goal at CWR is to understand the health of our oceans by monitoring and protecting the population health of the largest animals on the planet – the great whales.  Conserving their critical habitats ensures that the ocean, and indeed the planet, remains in good health.

CWR began with a humpback whale population measuring program in the Dampier Archipelago in 1990, guided government in the establishment of a new marine park for their calving grounds discovered as part of this process, and then expanded our work to include blue whales in 1999.  A marine park for a critical feeding ground for pygmy blue whales is now on the table.

Based on RV Whale Song, CWR’s scientists conduct research all around Australia and into the Southern Ocean.

 Head Off-shore with CWR!

‘Whale Song’ Antarctic Voyage for Ecosystem Studies’

‘Whale Song’s first voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2007. Photo Credit J. Bivera

‘Whale Song’s first voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2007.
Photo Credit J. Bivera

The CWR team has just arrived back in Fremantle after a very successful WAVES Expedition to the Antarctic monitoring feeding humpback whales using a suite of scientific techniques on board their ice-class Research Vessel Whale Song during the summer of 2014.Read about the WAVES Expedition with daily Blog entries for Days 1-31 (Dec 30, 2013 to Jan 29, 2014) where humpback whales were studied while lunge-feeding through huge schools of krill.  See the track of our journey from Hobart to the ice-edge, along the ice-edge, then northwards and homeward towards Fremantle.  An Antarctic blue whale and a Pygmy blue whale were encountered feeding in the Sub-Tropical Convergence adding a new piece to the puzzle regarding their movements around the Indian and Southern Oceans.

Read about other CWR Projects, catch up-to-date CWR News stories, follow the history of our research techniques, read about our vessels including our latest acquisition, Whale Songa 28 m ice-class vessel capable of world-wide expeditions, and learn about relevant management decisions affecting cetaceans in Australia.

Anyone can subscribe to CWR post and receive regular newsletters from Micheline Jenner informing when new content is posted.  ‘Like’ our CWR face-book page to keep up to date with daily input about whale research and other marine science and track our Current Location..