University of Otago PhD student Trudi Webster has
received a $10,000 research grant from the Otago Museum to
support research involving the haunting sounds southern right
whales make under water.
The Otago Museum Trust Board recently agreed to fund her
participation in a planned Otago University research trip to
the Auckland Islands this winter, aboard the university's
ocean-going research vessel Polaris II.
Miss Webster, who is also a project officer at the museum, is
part of a team of researchers studying the ecology of the
subantarctic Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand. She was
''quite excited'' about taking part in the three-week
research trip in July.
She was also ''really grateful and appreciative'' for the
extensive support the museum had given her.
This was the ''first long-term study'' of the ''acoustic
behaviour'' of southern right whales in New Zealand waters.
Over the past three years, the Otago University team had
focused its research at the Auckland Islands on native marine
species such as New Zealand sea lions, southern right whales
and yellow-eyed penguins, which were of ''particular
interest'' because their range now extended to the Otago
coastline, a report on the funding proposal said.
The team's efforts had previously generated extensive media
publicity and presentations at international conferences.
Researchers planned to retrieve two autonomous acoustic
recorders deployed in August last year to investigate the
time of arrival and departure of the whales at the islands.
Further recordings in the acoustically quiet Auckland Islands
would be made for comparison work with other ''more
acoustically polluted'' right whale populations, such as
those off the North Atlantic coast of the United States.
Many benefits to the museum would result in exhibits, or
other ''interactive production'' material could be developed
for the museum, using sounds from the ocean, the report said.