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Uncharted wonders: Ukrainian polar explorers unveil photo of rare whale

Uncharted wonders: Ukrainian polar explorers unveil photo of rare whale Polar explorers show rare whales (photo:

Ukrainian scientists managed to meet rare whales and record their sounds. These are southern fin whales, one of the least studied whale species in the world, according to the Facebook page of the National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine.

Why whales are unique

They are rarely seen near the Vernadsky Research Base, but scientists have found that there is a great diversity of marine mammals further north in the Gerlache Strait. In particular, encounters with southern pilot whales are most often recorded there.

That is why this area was chosen for research with the participation of the Ukrainian ship Noosphere.

In particular, visual observations were made from the Noosphere, and "acoustic trawling" was performed, i.e., recording cetaceans' sounds. Separately, the animals were searched for from a motorboat that moved nearby but surveyed bays that were difficult to access for a large vessel.

On the very first day of work, the boat's crew was extremely lucky, as they spotted a group of 5 southern fin whales. The encounter lasted a few seconds, but the biologists managed to take photos of the whales and transmitted information about their direction of movement to the Noosphere. This allowed the ship to record its sounds.

A special acoustic system was used for the recording. It consists of:

  • an acoustic recorder mounted in a streamlined hull
  • a 180-meter-long cable
  • a wing that holds the hull with the recorder at a fixed depth
  • a shank that prevents excessive vibration

This design allows for high-quality recordings while the vessel is moving, despite the acoustic noise it generates.

Не досліджені у світі: українські полярники показали фото рідкісного кита

Southern fin whales (photo:

Не досліджені у світі: українські полярники показали фото рідкісного китаSouthern fin whales (photo:

What did the scientists get

As a result of several sessions of the recorder's work, the biologists received more than fourteen hours of acoustic recordings. A preliminary assessment of some of them showed the presence of sounds not only of fin whales but also of killer whales and humpback whales.

However, a thorough analysis is still needed to identify the sounds of other marine mammals.

It is known that acoustic research has been carried out at Vernadsky since 2021. In particular, scientists recorded various marine mammals from boats and also kept continuous recordings during the breeding season of Weddell seals near the station.

Thanks to such research, scientists will be able to improve their knowledge of marine mammals, in particular, their communication methods.

Ukrainian polar explorers recorded the sounds of rare whales (photo:

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