Tracking narwhals in Greenland

From August 2006 to March 2007, scientists from the University of Washington and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources will instrument 8-10 narwhals with satellite-linked time-depth-temperature recorders to track whale movements, diving behavior, and ocean temperature structure in Baffin Bay. The instruments will collect water column temperature profiles in the pack ice to more than 1500 meters in depth when narwhals make a fall migration from north Greenland to their wintering grounds in Baffin Bay. Narwhals have never been observed or studied in their winter habitat in central Baffin Bay due to dense ice cover, offshore location, and logistics, so this is a very exciting opportunity for all participants.

This work will be conducted in two phases. The first will be a tagging expedition along the coast of Melville Bay (where narwhals are known to travel) during late summer of 2006, and the second phase will involve tagging and observing whales in their winter habitat in Baffin Bay in March 2007. The summer tagging cruise will be conducted aboard the vessel m/v Sila, a 7-person boat that often serves as a platform for coastal transportation and research in West Greenland. The second phase will be conducted from short-term mobile day camps established on pack ice in Baffin Bay. Twin Otter planes and helicopters will be used to move the science party to and from camps, and also to observe whales in the pack ice.
Adam Ravetch of Arctic BearProductions will produce an educational film on narwhals during this study.


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