Thursday, March 25, 2010

LAST WEEK -Brian Samuels introduced us to the world of whale research Kiwi/Aussie style


Members talk: Councillor Graeme’s members talk brought us up to date with his council duty which predominantly involves much reading so that he can help make better informed decisions.
The Airport is in profit, Port tonnage is up, Performing arts is still wanting more money and the rates are going up by 6.2%. He recommends reading the annual plan if you have the time as it can all be found in there.
Brian Samuels introduced us to the world of whale research Kiwi/Aussie style which doesn’t involve any research at the dining table. Brian went on the Tangaroa as no.2 cook and got to do a bit of onboard site seeing in between feeding the ships compliment of sailors, researchers and scientists. It was a joint venture trip put together with Australia’s Antarctic Division and NZ’s L.I.N.D.S. This was to prove that whale research doesn’t have to involve killing whales Japanese style to get valuable information.

The ship had a Niad chase boat and another smaller rubber dingy. From these they tried to get close to the whales to take core samples from them or tag them with satellite tracking devices fired by compressed air guns. In all 30 whales were tagged with tracking beacons but only 10 were successful as the tags needed to be above water when the whale was breathing on the surface to be satellite tracked.
The core plugs of flesh gave up DNA information as to age sex etc. Sometimes the small chase boats were away for 10/11 hours.
The Minki whales were too fast to tag so they concentrated on Hump Backs. No Blues were sighted at all. On board were professional whale spotters who were on the bridge scanning the horizon for whales to chase thru their pole mounted binoculars.
Brian saw some nice ice burgs including a fantastic old blue one. He was away 43 days which consisted of 7 to get there, 6 to get home in the rough, 30 days doing scientific duties. For 14 days the small boats could go out and 14 days of bad weather they couldn’t. 624 whales were sighted, 9 species, 109 sonar buoys were let go, 65 biopsies carried out, 61 different whale flukes filmed for identifying purposes, 134 plankton samples taken, 49 species of sea birds seen, and 30 satellite tags attached which only 10 of worked.
Brian’s duties consisted of doing breakfast, morning tea and the mid day lunch veges prep. He also made the salads from fresh food that lasted almost to the last day of the voyage. He got to work out in the gym and talk to all on board who were pretty clever people. I am sure he entertained a few with his wit as well.

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