Just off the north coast of Iceland, scientists are collecting data from whale breaths to see if they are stressed by the booming industry of whale watching boats in recent years.
Researchers at Whale Wise, a marine conservation charity, are studying whales Stress level With their hormones.
The drone takes off from their little sailing vessel. After waiting six hours, the scientists finally Humpback whale..
Attached to the flying device are two Petri dishes (transparent cylindrical containers). Water drops From a whale spray.
Time frame to collect sample Short — The duration of whale breathing.
This time, the drone carefully flies over the whale, crosses the spray from the whale’s fumaroles … and the mission is complete. It returns to the sailing vessel and delivers its valuable cargo to the researchers.
After wrapping in paraffin and freezing, the sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis.
Researchers aim to collect samples before and after the arrival of whale watching boats and compare the two samples to determine the direct impact of the encounter on stress levels.
Although 2020 was a quiet year due to the pandemic, tourists are increasingly flocking to the North Atlantic waters off Iceland and admire the majestic creatures.
In 2019, more than 360,000 whale watching was registered, three times more than 10 years ago.
Almost one-third of them started a whale watching tour at Husavik harbor and headed for the cold waters of Skjálfandi Bay.
Previous studies on the impact of tourism on whales, based on behavioral observations, concluded that tourism caused only slight confusion in mammals.
The latest survey from 2011 found that whale watching excursions were confusing. Minke whale It is located in Faxa Bay near Reykjavik in the southern part of the country.
Marianne Rasmussen, director of the University of Iceland Research Center in Husavik, one of the authors of the study, told AFP:
“It did not affect their overall fitness.”
The method used by Whalewise this summer was used elsewhere by biologists, but this was the first method for Icelandic researchers.
“From the sample, we can look at hormones such as the stress-related hormone cortisol, and then determine the physiological stress levels of these whales,” said Whalewise co-founder and PhD. Said Tom Grove. .. A student at the University of Edinburgh.
Since 2018, 59 samples have been collected. A proper analysis requires a minimum of 50, but he wants to collect about 100.
Several samples were collected this summer with the French environmental group Unu Mondo Expedition, who visited Iceland for a month-long expedition to Iceland to study climate change issues.
“Whales are important to our lives because they are part of the global ecosystem,” said Sophie Simonin, 29, co-founder of the organization.
“They also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide,” she added.
According to a December 2019 survey by the International Monetary Fund, large whales capture an average of 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Whales are a tourist attraction, but they are also hunted in Iceland.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Iceland, which opposed the Moratorium, resumed hunting in 2003.
Iceland only bans the hunting of blue whales.
However, by 2023 the country had established an annual quota of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales, Whale This year has been hunted for the third consecutive year, as whalers say it is not financially feasible.
© 2021 AFP
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Do tourist boats stress whales?Researchers
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