Perth Canyon Pygmy Blue Whale Season 2021

ANZAC Day Whale Tagging

Rosemary and ANZAC were the first pygmy blue whales to be satellite tagged in the latest effort by collaborators Australian Institute of Marine Science and Centre for Whale Research (Western Australia) Inc. to understand the movement behaviour and identify the foraging areas of these whales along the WA coast.

The two whales were tagged in the Perth Canyon on ANZAC Day. This day, April 25th, holds great significance for both Australians and New Zealanders, as each year we remember the strong alliance and unfailing comradeship forged by Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the battlefields during World War 1. These brave young men are collectively and officially called ANZAC’s being the initialization of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and because of their courage we can have a free and wonderful life in Australia and can tag pygmy blue whales. During commemorations on ANZAC Day a sprig of rosemary is traditionally worn as it represents an ancient symbol of fidelity and remembrance and this aromatic herb grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsular in Turkey where the first ANZACs served over 100 years ago.

Rosemary and ANZAC spent several days in the Perth Canyon and on April 30, 2021 when the tagging of these whales was first reported on our Centre for Whale Research (Western Australia) Inc Facebook page, they were yet to migrate further north to Indonesia where it is believed breeding and calving occur. When first spotted, the smaller animal named ANZAC, at approximately 21 m, was closely following the larger and wider Rosemary, approximately 24 m long. Based on this behaviour, we think that ANZAC was a male interested in Rosemary, thought to be a pregnant female. This behaviour is usually conducted by the male to determine if the female is ready to mate.

You can follow Rosemary and ANZAC’s movements here:

Note the tags now seen on this map are valid up to June 06, 2021 and include two more whales, but you can still see where Rosemary and ANZAC were moving around in the Perth Canyon when their tags were applied on April 25, 2021.  The other two whales Goosey and Tiny will be discussed in future posts here on CWR’s website.

The tags only transmit each time the whales come to the surface to breath and the tag makes a connection with the overhead satellites. At this time an estimate of the whale’s location on the earth is obtained. The number of and quality of the location estimate depends on how long the whale is at the surface, the location of the tag on the whale and how many satellites are overhead at that time. It seemed initially that ANZAC may be spending more time underwater and the day after the tag deployment he was not following Rosemary anymore.

It is a great privilege to study and protect our beautiful marine life inhabiting Australian waters and we are truly grateful for the service and dedication of the ANZACs to make this possible in the 21st Century.

Lest we forget.

Photo by Micheline Jenner/CWR.
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