Researcher captures striking Antarctic video of minke whale

March 21, 2018 by Nick Perry
Researcher captures striking Antarctic video of minke whale
In this Feb. 1, 2018, images made from video and supplied by Dr Regina Eisert and Anthony Powell of the University of Canterbury a minke whale glides under the ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Marine mammal expert Regina Eisert thought minke whales were a little boring until she captured some striking footage of one swimming underwater near Antarctica. Now she thinks they're beautiful. (Regina Eisert/Anthony Powell /University of Canterbury via AP)

Marine mammal expert Dr. Regina Eisert thought minke whales were a little boring until she captured some striking footage of one swimming underwater near Antarctica. Now she thinks they're beautiful.

Eisert said the whales look similar from the surface but that she gained a new appreciation for their individuality after seeing the markings on one up close. She said her team got the underwater video by luck. They'd planned to film underwater for two weeks but managed to get just 90 minutes of footage before running into technical problems.

A researcher at the University of Canterbury, Eisert said they were in Antarctica earlier this year mainly to research orcas in the Ross Sea. But she said their observations of minke whales could shed new light on their feeding patterns.

"Baleen whales are an important part of the ecosystem, but they're grossly understudied," she said.

The conventional thinking has been that minke whales mainly chase krill, Eisert said. But she couldn't see any krill where the whales were swimming, so she thinks they may have been chasing small schools of fish.

She hopes they will be able to find out more about what the whales eat after taking a tiny amount of skin and blubber from the minke whales using a modified tranquilizer gun.

Eisert and her team got their footage after being dropped by helicopter on sea ice not far from two research stations, New Zealand's Scott Base and the American base McMurdo Station. The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star had earlier cut a channel through the ice to allow the stations to be resupplied, which Eisert said also provided a kind of highway for the whales.

Researcher captures striking Antarctic video of minke whale
In this Jan. 31, 2018, image supplied by Dr Regina Eisert of the University of Canterbury a minke whale floats to the surface through the ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Marine mammal expert Regina Eisert thought minke whales were a little boring until she captured some stiking footage of one swimming underwater near Antarctica. Now she thinks they're beautiful. (Regina Eisert/University of Canterbury via AP)

She said there had been very little study of minke whales in the Ross Sea region, despite there being over 100,000 in the area. The cost and difficulty of studying them in such a remote and inhospitable place had been a deterrent, she said.

Eisert's research, sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts, will examine the effect of a new marine protected area on the Ross Sea ecosystem.

Explore further: NOAA launching investigation into minke whale deaths

Related Stories

Minke whales lunge 100 times per hour to feed under sea ice

August 13, 2014

Highly manoeuvrable and built like torpedoes, minke whales are the most common whales in Antarctic waters, yet the animals could be living on a knife edge as their sea-ice homes dwindle rapidly. 'Sea ice in the area around ...

Recommended for you

Sightings, satellites help track mysterious ocean giant

August 19, 2018

The sight of a basking shark's brooding silhouette gliding through the waters off western France is more than just a rare treat for sailors—it is a boon for scientists trying to trace its secretive migrations across the ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Gigel
not rated yet Mar 21, 2018
Yep, Jimmy cheated again and now there's a footage of it. He went up mid-game to take a good breath. The worst player of "dive hard" ever.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.