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Research at Whale2Sea

We want to increase our understanding of the behavioral ecology of male sperm whales. The ecology of males after they leave the breeding grounds at lower latitudes is poorly known compared to the social groups of females and their offspring in the breeding grounds. Whale2Sea is in contact with scientists studying sperm whale males in other parts of the world, such as New Zealand, Alaska, and Japan – this year we hope to establish collaboration with Greenland and Iceland as well.

Long-term photo-identification

Long-term photo-ID data forms the baseline of the work, as following the occurrence and behavior of known individuals gives several insights into the ecology of the sperm whales we observe on the feeding grounds off Vesterålen. (Link to the catalog)

Regional Research Council Nordland and Tromsø University

In February 2021 Whale2Sea launched a two-year project, funded by the Regional Research Council Nordland,  in collaboration with professor Audun Rikardsen from Tromsø University and one of the pioneers in sperm whale research, dr Jonathan Gordon from Marine Ecological Research Ltd UK. The project focuses on the following aspects of sperm whale ecology:

  • Habitat use (including seasonal differences), migrations, and diving behavior with the help of satellite telemetry and photo ID
  • Diet of the sperm whales (biopsy samples of skin and blubber, sampling of feces)
  • Improving methods for acoustic detection of sperm whales, to avoid unnecessary driving out at sea
  • Acoustic behavior of sperm whales, with a focus on social behavior and the context of production of slow clicks and codas as a Ph.D. study by Zoë Morange
  • Depredation behavior; sperm whales taking Greenland Halibut from longlines and gillnets. The aim is to document this behavior both visually and acoustically and start looking for solutions together with fishermen.
  • Determining the age structure of male sperm whales in the study area, with potential seasonal differences

There is also an ongoing plan to start studying the health status of sperm whales observed in the feeding grounds.

Whale2Sea is proud to be part of the frontier in scientific work done on male sperm whales and grateful for the opportunity to give our visitors fascinating insights into the life of the sperm whales we see off Andøya.


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