We have just wrapped up field work in the first phase of the 2018 Atlantic Behavioral Response Study. We’ll take a month off and then start again in the middle of July with a new round of tag deployments and Controlled Exposure Experiments (CEEs).
On June 13th we conducted our second CEE of the year with a Navy destroyer, this time the USS Ramage. Unfortunately, it was too rough to send the RV Barber offshore, but our intrepid field crew managed to located Zc69, our focal Cuvier’s beaked whale, from a charter vessel on the morning of the experiment. We were able to locate the whale just before the start of the CEE, giving us an exact position of the whale (position estimates from the satellite tag can be unreliable) and allowing us to measure received sound levels near the whale – at least at the surface.
In the days following the CEE we managed to get offshore to find Zc69 and his associates again and to see some of our satellite tagged pilot whales. Relocating these animals allows us to assess potential changes in social associates, to check on the satellite tags, and to obtain biopsy samples from the focal whales.
On our last day of field work we encountered a group of seven Cuvier’s beaked whales that allowed us to approach on several surfacings. We collected three biopsy samples from this group of whales.
So now it’s time to rest up, conduct some preliminary analysis, and prepare for the second phase of the 2018 Atlantic Behavioral Response Study, which will begin in mid-July. Stay tuned for more updates!