What do blue whales do underwater?

The Northwest Atlantic blue whale population has been classified as endangered since 2002. In order to better protect this species, it is essential that we gain a better understanding of how blue whales use the St. Lawrence Estuary, which is one of the areas where they congregate.

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  • What do blue whales do underwater?
  • Photo credit : © Richard Sears

To go through the looking glass

Researchers place data recorders on the backs of blue whales and track them using radio telemetry. A wide range of data—such as water temperature, speed, depth and dive duration—recorded in a microchip in a suction-cup tag, allow researchers to draw up a portrait of the animal’s three-dimensional movements.

In short

Six tracking bouts have been successfully carried out since the beginning of the project in 2002. The blue whales that were tracked dove in various ways. These included exploratory V-shaped dives, as well as U-shaped feeding dives, to depths of between 20 and 130 m. Further tracking is planned to obtain a better image of how blue whales use the St. Lawrence Estuary.

Project collaborators

Janie Giard GREMM, Véronique Lesage Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (Fisheries and Oceans of Canada)

Partners:

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (Fisheries and Oceans of Canada)