Friday, August 16, 2013

Dwarf Minke Whales - Runners on the Ribbons

It's early July on Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the SE trades are roaring fit to blow dogs off chains.  

However it's in that magical six weeks when the dwarf minke whales arrive on the Ribbon Reefs in force.  Where they come from and then go to is still a mystery but Pam and I are fortunate to be with an expert scientific team on a specific world first minke mission.  They have 4 satellite tags that will track these illusive pimpernels. But first the tags need to be applied.

We are on Curt and Micheline Jenner's state of the art research vessel, WhaleSong.  Long term dwarf minke pioneers and researchers Dr. Alistair Birtles and John Rumney are aboard together with renowned telemetry expert Dr. Russ Andrews,  and the man who will do all the hard work applying the tags, Jimmy White.  The whales decide to cooperate and the tags are on in two days.  Three of the whales hung around for another two days showing off their shiny new tracking gear.

Four weeks later, the minkes are well south with the lead whale about to enter Bass Strait on Australia's southern coastline.  For more information go to

Images: Pam and Wayne Osborn
A dwarf minke surfaces next to WhaleSong

A dwarf minke neatly fitted with a 'limpet' satellite tag.