Ice in summer, sun in winter: investigating migratory patterns of humpback whales in the Colombian Pacific and around the Antarctic Peninsula.
We are passionate scientists who want to share our knowledge and experiences with you!
We offer a one-in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a hands-on scientific research in Antarctica among whales… how incredible is that!
We want to inspire people who participate in the research as well as those who will follow our blog online. By providing hands-on scientific experiences we aim to make research accessible to everybody. We want people to familiarize and discover what scientists do both, in the field and the laboratory. By accessing scientific techniques in a fun and active way, participants will better understand the relevance of scientific research and its value. Particularly, the importance of gathering scientific information to provide government agencies reliable data so they can make informed decisions to tackle problems regarding species conservation, habitat deterioration and climate change.
Collection of non-lethal skin biopsy samples of Humpback whales in Antarctica allows to uniquely identify individuals, understand their migratory patterns, genetic connectivity and diversity. Since 2015, members of our laboratory have participated in the Colombian Antarctic Program collecting skin samples of Humpback whales to identify unique individuals migrating between the Antarctic Peninsula and the Colombian Pacific Coast. Our database provides a significant contribution to the 5500 individual whales uniquely identified by the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, led by Professor Scott Baker (Oregon State University). Particularly, we sampled in Antarctica whales that were identified for the first time in 1991 along the Pacific Coast of Colombia.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) allows detection of minuscule amounts of DNA left in the water from different cetaceans. This technique allows detection of cryptic species or those that are difficult to approach due to behaviour or environmental conditions.
The main objective of our proposal is to continue with the collection of skin biopsy samples, sound recordings, photo-identifications of Humpback whales and environmental DNA around the Antarctic Peninsula to provide vital information to better understand the potential effects of climate change on the migratory pathways of the whales. While we conduct our research, we will involve passengers on board MS FRAM (Hurtigruten) to actively participate in our work.