Gardline Undertakes Survey of Endangered Blue Whales (New Zealand)

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) based in Hobart needed a ship to undertake an international study of endangered Antarctic Blue Whales in January 2013. This project came to the attention of Gardline which has a practical and established interest in marine sciences but are normally undertaken from its own ships, however, the obscure location was a difficulty.

To solve this problem Gardline chartered a New Zealand based trawler. With careful planning and the help of Andy Stammers, an experienced Gardline survey ship master at the helm, the 6 week trip to the ice edge with 18 scientists also on board was undertaken.

The ‘can do’ approach of a New Zealand fishing crew under the supervision of Captain John Whitlock was praised by the scientific team. Taking bio sample with special darts, fixing satellite tags and taking photographs present a range of practical challenges.

The project included establishing photo ID for 57 individual whales plus 11 pygmy blue whales, and in particular demonstrated practical success of the acoustic whale tracking techniques used.

The Antarctic Blue Whale Project is being carried out by a research partnership which includes Australia, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa and several South American and European nations.

The 68m ‘Amatal Explorer’ successfully completed the project in Nelson, New Zealand on the 17th March 2013.

Gardline Marine Sciences operates internationally with a fleet of specialist ocean going survey vessels performing water column, sea bed and sub sea bed investigations primarily for Governments and energy companies. Gardline’s Marine Wildlife Department provides Marine Mammal Observers for biological impact assessments and mitigation studies.


Press Release, April 24, 2013