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Listening for whales near Deepwater Horizon site

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A research team that has been recording whale calls for the past nine years in the Gulf of Mexico has deployed six pop-up recorders in the same area, in hopes of hearing how the local whales are doing in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

This blog post from Greenpeace summarizes the past and current research in areas 9 and 23 miles from the site of the accident.  The post notes the lack of recent whale sitings in the area (though one was seen at a site 63 miles away).  I’m not sure what a lack of whales at sites close to the explosion and spill would prove or imply: while the Gulf sperm whales are a resident population, they do range over a region, rather than a neighborhood, and it would be rather surprising if they had lingered near the site of both oil and massive amounts of ship traffic over the past few months.  Still, it’s great that there is a baseline of acoustic data for this area, and we’ll certainly look forward to results from this and future years’ studies there.

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