Whale research on Skjálfandi Bay
Last week the Whale Museum invited North Sailing staff to a lecture on whale research and a ‘start of the season’ party.
Arianna Cecchetti, from Italy who is working on her Master thesis, at the University of Wales in Bangor, is going to be in Húsavík for the summer studying the whales of Skjálfandi. She told us about her projects, its aims, techniques used, and results that have been found so far.
It was Mike Tetley, a marine biologist and PhD candidate at the University of Wales, Bangor, who suggested this project to Arianne. Mike has visited Húsavík twice now to work on his PhD which aims to compare data on the distribution (sightings) and site fidelity (photo-id) of whales from isolated study sites in Iceland, Scotland, Canada and Japan. Mike has helped the Whale Museum greatly in developing their ‘Photo ID’ project and aims to send more master students to Húsavík in the future.
For the past few year the Whale Museum has collected data for a ‘PhotoID’ project. This data consists of pictures of whales on Skjálfandi bay, description of their behaviour along with so called Effort Data, e.g. weather & sea conditions, location, speed and track of the whale watching vessel.
Arianne is now both collecting new ‘PhotoID’ data and analyzing the data collected in previous years. Her aim is to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of minke whales, humpback whales and white-beaked dolphins within Skjalfandi Bay to determine why the area is such an important habitat for these three species. Primarily her project will focus on the types of habitats and environments within the Bay and how the underlying environment may support the great marine mammal diversity of the area. These, once understood more clearly, will help to influence and promote more effective management and strategies for preserving this important marine habitat.
Mike´s research has resulted in one recapture so far, a humpback know as ‘MN19’ was sighted in 2002 and then again in 2005. This recapture is a very important discovery and indicates that Skjálfandi Bay is an important area for the humpbacks.
We wish Arianne and Mike all the best in their studies and look forward to seeing their results.
Arianne on the Whale Museum’s balcony with the stunning backdrop of the Mountains of Kinn.
The Whale Museums ‘PhotoID’ catalogue. In there all the documented whales are sorted and descriptions written for each one.
Effort data: this shows the different routs of the Whale Watching vessels during the summers of 2004 and 2005.
Humpback ‘MN19’ seen on Skjálfandi Bay 2002 and again in 2005