Cetaceans Observations Off Terre Adélie

Project Description
The CETA program (Distribution des cétacés en Terre Adélie) was launched by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) in 2009 to carry out a first pilot study on cetacean distribution off Adelie Land (IWC Area V). An opportunistic survey conducted in January 2010 allowed the collection of 38 sightings on the continental shelf off the Adélie Land coastline, totalising a minimum of 84 individuals. True blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were identified for the first time in the Adélie Land region. Sightings of antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) and killer whale (Orcinus orca) type A and C confirmed the presence of both species in this area. Photo-ID were realised on three blue whales and two humpback whales. One of the two humpback was previously photo-ID in Hervey Bay, East Australia in 2002. A biopsy was collected on one humpback whale. The presence of great whales (8 individuals of blue and humpback whales) in the Adélie Depression raised the issue of the importance of this area for such endangered species. The second year of this pilot study will be conducted in January 2011, after which data will combined to evaluate relative abundance of cetaceans in the region. This work is a part of the Southern Ocean Research Partnerships (SORP) on non-lethal whale research.