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Greenpeace Whale Science Programme Captures Rare Humpback Recordings in Antarctica


Soutthern Ocean, Antarctica — An international team aboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, currently searching for the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, has made a rare series of recordings of humpback whales in Antarctic waters. “We were surrounded by more than 50 feeding humpbacks”, said Greenpeace science officer Leandra Goncalves, on board the Esperanza. “This provided us with an amazing opportunity to record the vocalizations of whales while they fed. Very little is known about whale behaviour in the Southern Ocean. This data, in addition to that already gathered earlier this year during the Great Whale Trail tagging project,(1) is vital in giving us a greater understanding of the behaviour and communications of humpback whales.“
Greenpeace Japan’s campaigner aboard the Esperanza, Sakyo Noda, said: “In stark contrast to the non-lethal research that we and other legitimate researchers have been carrying out, the Japanese Fisheries Agency’s Research Programme has determined practically nothing of scientific value. While Japan’s whaling fleet has given the humpbacks a reprieve this year, it still plans to needlessly slaughter nearly 1,000 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales”

Greenpeace is collaborating with a team of scientists on the ’Great Whale Trail’ project, which involves the collection of data from satellite tagging of whales, harmless skin biopsies and fluke identification, and has already yielded valuable information about the migration patterns of threatened humpback populations, without a single harpoon being fired.

Greenpeace is collaborating with the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) during the Greenpeace Great Whale Trail expedition to the Southern Ocean, with a non-lethal research programme which includes data on populations and identities particularly of humpback whales. In addition, Greenpeace will make footage of whale hunting available to IFAW in order for them to further research the killing methods and durations of the Japanese whaling fleet. The Esperanza also carrying a fixed camera recording ice patterns in the Southern Ocean, as part of an International Polar Year project.

The Esperanza will continue its non-lethal whale research programme en route to finding and stopping the whaling fleet (2), demonstrating that real scientific results can be achieved without killing hundreds of whales.
Notes to Editor

(1) Great Whale Trail website

(2) This is Greenpeace’s ninth expedition to the Southern Ocean to stop the whale hunt, and the second in the last twelve months. In February 2007, the Esperanza assisted and then escorted the /Nisshin Maru/ out of Antarctic waters, following a fire that left the whaling factory ship disabled, and one crewman dead.

Contact information

Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International communications officer on board the Esperanza. Tel: +47 514 079 86

Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Project leader, on board the Esperanza. Tel: +47 514 079 86

Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader, Tokyo. Tel: +81-80-5088-2990 (GMT + 9)

Photo & video are available from Michelle Thomas, in Tokyo: + 81 903 593 6979


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