In late fall and into the winter, thousands of humpback whales that have been fattening up on krill and herring in the waters of Southeast Alaska head south for warmer waters.
Researchers from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute are trying to find out more about the timing and nature of the whales’ annual three-thousand-mile migration from Alaska to Hawaii. They spent two weeks in November on the Petersburg-based motor vessel Northern Song in Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound and successfully attached transmitting tags to twenty humpbacks. Joe Viechnicki spoke with research assistant Ladd Irvine about their work and what they hope to learn.
Irvine says the team wants to do two years of tagging in Southeast Alaska and Hawaii before compiling the tag data and eventually publishing the results.