Drones give rare glimpse into Australian whales


Southern right whale populations are showing signs of recovery from the impact of whaling last century, but the population is still estimated to be relatively small at about 3,000 animals in Australian waters. - AFP

Sydney (AFP) - Scientists studying whales in Australia have gained rare images of a white calf swimming with its mother as part of a project they hope will help conservation efforts.

Researchers spotted the baby white whale while using a drone to conduct aerial surveys of southern right whale populations off the coast of Western Australia.

"Drones are allowing us to non-invasively measure the size and body condition of free living southern right whales," said Fredrik Christiansen, a researcher at Murdoch University's Cetacean Research Unit.

Lars Bejder, who took the drone footage with Christiansen off Augusta in the state's southwest in July and August, said the drones provided a new perspective on the animals.

Southern right whale populations are showing signs of recovery from the impact of whaling last century, but the population is still estimated to be relatively small at about 3,000 animals in Australian waters.

The white calf is rare as only about five percent of the species are born this colour. They darken to grey in their first year.

The drones are part of an innovative programme which also uses suction caps applied to the whales to measure their dives and sounds to learn more about the animals.

"Little is known about the three dimensional movements and habitat-use of southern right whales in their breeding and calving grounds in Australia," Bejder said in a statement.

He added that such data was vital for the animal's conservation given many areas in the region were slated for developments which would see an increase in shipping and tourism.

"Our aim is not only to study the behavioural ecology of these amazing animals, but also to provide information to industry and management towards conservation," he said.

The suction cup tags, carefully affixed to the animals via hand-held poles, stay attached for up to 24 hours and measure and record the depth, pitch and roll of swimming behaviour.

"The tag also records sound, which is sufficient for measuring sounds made by boats and those heard by the whales," said Bejder.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

whales , Australia ,

   

Next In Regional

SpaceX lands NASA launch contract for mission to Jupiter's moon Europa
CPO futures may see technical correction after rally
Ringgit to trade in tight range vs US$
Covid-19: Over 460,000 vaccine doses administered on Friday (July 23)
Magnitude 6.7 quake hits south of Manila
Study: 25 mega-cities produce more than half the world's urban greenhouse gas emissions
Covid-19: Interstate movements trigger new community clusters, says Health DG
Malaysia needs a big reset button
Millennials and Gen Z are mostly anxious
Those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will enjoy more benefits, says Health DG

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers