A pioneering study by Australian and New Zealand scientists has disproved the traditional position; that in order to study whales it was necessary to kill them. Conducted under the banner of the Southern Oceans Research Partnership (SORP), seventeen researchers gathered information about whales using skin biopsy, photography, satellite tagging and acoustics to study population structure, distribution, movement, feeding and ecological role of Southern Ocean whales.
During the expedition, the team attached 30 satellite tracking tags, collected 64 skin biopsy samples and 61 individual tail fluke photographs from humpback whales. They also deployed 110 sonobuoys which recorded the sounds of blue, humpback, minke, fin and sperm whales, as well as an unidentified beaked whale. Lastly, they were able to track the movements of blue whales for 36 hours.
The findings of their research will be presented to the International Whaling Commission meeting next year.