Marine Mammal Research.com
Week One Summary
Wednesday June 26, 2013
[From the trip Expedition Eye to Eye: Swimming with Giants]
Adventure For Change has just wrapped up our first week studying dwarf minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef in a unique collaboration with with Minke Whale Project and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters. We had an incredible time, collected valuable data on whale behaviour and population dynamics and came away with a new appreciation and passion for these friendly creatures.
The Adventure For Change team was very fortunate to observe dwarf minke whales every day we were at sea. Encounters ranged from energetic breaching (animals jumping whole or part way out of the water) to surreal moments spent gazing into the eyes of a 6 tonne ocean denizen. Over the course of the week we spent a total of 11 hours and 23 minutes engaged in minke whale observations and drifted over 11.3 nautical miles with them through open ocean.
Dwarf minke whales are the most heavily patterned of all the baleen whales, which allowed us to identify individuals based on their colouration and scars. We positively identified 40 animals, at least one of which had been sighted before (10 July, 2011). Some of the interesting behaviours we witnessed were bubble blasts (when the whale releases a burst of air from it's blowhole underwater), belly presentations, multiple barrel rolls, headrises and very close approaches (<1m)!
Other highlights of the trip included visits from spinner dolphins, sea snakes, reef sharks, turtles, manta rays and a red-footed booby who found a nice warm spot to rest his weary wings - a passenger's arm on the top deck.
More photos and video coming soon. We can't wait to see what the next week will bring......