Our current studies focus on photo-identification of blue whales, and the distribution, ecology and foraging behaviour of blue whales throughout their upwelling habitat. Photo-ID involves the use of our small research vessel Bonney Blue, to enable photographic identification of individual whales by unique natural markings. Recording ‘baseline’ behaviour through ‘focal follows’ of foraging whales is also a current priority.
Aerial surveys are used to map the changing distribution of the whales, allowing better understanding of their ecology by illuminating relationships between whale distribution and ecological characteristics of their habitat, including sea temperature, depth and chlorophyll concentrations, and the distribution of krill surface swarms.
We also focus on recording marine biodiversity in the region, not only of cetaceans but of other fauna observed during our surveys. All of these species depend on the complex food web of this productive upwelling habitat.
Other ongoing areas of research interest are the potential effects of climate change and offshore human activities on blue whales and their prey.