Beluga Whales followed by Argos satellite tags
Beluga whales are very difficult to observe, which is why scientists from the University of Washington use Argos satellite tags to better understand their behavior and the environment in which they live.
The team of scientists from UW first began fitting beluga whales with Argos pop-up tags in 1993, off the coast of Alaska. Early summer is the ideal season because the whales swim close to the shore and it is possible to capture them to attach a satellite transmitter. The data collected by the satellite tags includes diving depths, positions, providing insights into their behavior, as belugas spend most of their time underwater.
UW scientists correlated the 15-year beluga whale datasets with data on cod distribution. This study shows correlation between the whale diving behavior and the presence of Arctic cod, that belugas eat. They also studied the whales’ migration patterns, over thousands of kilometers each year.
With the changing climatic conditions and the increase in maritime traffic, this study will contribute to better understand the behavior of belugas in order to protect them by using monitoring tools like Argos satellite.