Antarctic blue whales are the largest animals to ever exist on Earth yet we know very little about them. They were hunted to the brink of extinction in the early to mid-20th century. Recent surveys estimate blue whale numbers to be about 1% of the pre whaling population. Conservation is essential for the survival of these majestic animals but it is difficult as we don’t know a lot about them. A greater understanding of blue whale behaviour especially partial migration strategies will assist in reducing the threats that anthropogenic activities pose on these creatures.
In my PhD research, I use passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to track the migration of Antarctic blue whales across the southern hemisphere. By utilising the CTBTO’s (Comprehensive Nuclear test ban treaty organisation) hydro-acoustic network I am able to analyse data that is recorded continuously over many years, more than a decade in the majority of my sites. I run acoustic detectors to pick up whale calls and use environmental variables to model the pattern of these calls.