It has been a busy summer so far in the BREACH lab. Our main projects this summer are focused on humpback whales, sea otters, and kelp. Read on to learn about the humpback whale project in a note from Master’s student, Jacopo Di Clemente. Then, stay tuned for future updates to learn more about this and the other projects! Heidi
Hi folks. My name is Jacopo Di Clemente and I'm a MSc student in Marine Science at the University of Southern Denmark. I am an Italian sea passionate guy, maybe because I was born in an island in the middle of Rome (yes, we have one as well...). I grew up studying all the sea creatures until I fell in love with...whales :). For my Master’s project, I am glad to have Heidi as an external mentor and team leader.
The project, the objectives
We want to understand if whale watching activities impact the biology of humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae). We aim to understand whether vessel activities can affect crucial aspects of the life of these giants, such as parental care and feeding. Objectives are often ambitious, but we want to help whales and humans coexist together. We want to make a difference.
Past studies have shown that whale watching activities affect several aspects of humpback whale ecology. Juneau is one of the most popular whale watching destinations in the world and we want to help ensure that the industry is sustainable, for both the whales and the economic benefit of the people involved. Through our study, we aim to provide baseline information on if/how whale watching vessels impact humpback whales in Juneau. Using a theodolite, or surveyor’s instrument, we observe whale movement and behavior from a cliff. We are fortunate to have a great observation spot, just behind the NOAA lab in Juneau. Not only do we have a high vantage point over the water, we sometimes receive visits from local residents such as bald eagles, woodpeckers, and even black bears.
We will be collecting data until the end of August so talk to you again soon! Jacopo