Sperm Whales & Giant Squid

From: Jennifer Philips (jphilips@hawaii.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 29 2002 - 16:41:02 EST


Jen:

I was watching a program on giant squid and it mentioned
that sperm whales may eat one or two a day. I know that
sperm whales are sometimes tagged for tracking. I am
guessing the tags are attached by being shot into a fluke or
fin. My real question is this: Is it possible to attach a
camera of some sort (infra red, maybe?) to the front of a
sperm whale? Scientists have been hoping for years to get
more information on giant squid but have not been able to
observe them live. If we could get a camera onto a sperm
whale, a creature that spends a lot of time finding and
eating them, we might be able to get pictures of live giant
squid. The more I think about it, the less I think it's
possible, but I thought I'd ask. Thanks for your reply.

Keith Baker

Keith,

Excellent observations. Yes, scientists working with sperm
whales have begun attaching remote/retrievable monitoring
devices on the whales in order to observe them as they go
about their normal activities. That of course includes
diving and one of the most exciting prospects of this with
sperm whales is, as you said, to "capture" a giant squid on
camera. One common device in use right now is called a
"crittercam", which was developed by National Geographic and
has been attached to many different species of
whales/dolphins/pinnipeds, as well as other marine animals,
including sea turtles. See National Geographic's site for
more info on their critter cam
(http://www.nationalgeographic.com/crittercam/). This area
of research (attaching retrievable devices to marine mammals
in order to observe their natural behavior) is extremely
exciting, with incredible prospects to answer many as yet
unanswered questions.

Thanks for your question to Whalenet!
Jen Philips



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