Unique whale research boat returns to Iceland

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

A state-of-the-art whale research vessel has returned to Icelandic waters to carry out further vital, non-invasive research on whales and their behaviour.

Song of the Whale, owned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW www.ifaw.org) and operated by a dedicated, specialist research team, previously visited Iceland in 2004 and 2006 and will spend the next seven weeks studying endangered fin whales, blue whales, minke whales and other species.

The 72-foot auxiliary sailing vessel was specially designed as a platform for the study of whales without harming or disturbing them and is one of the quietist research vessels in the world.

Part of this summer’s work involves a partnership with researchers from the University of Iceland. On behalf of the university, the team will deploy an acoustic device to the west of Isafjordur. This will record sounds from passing blue whales and fin whales before being recovered by the team onboard in mid-September.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We are very pleased to be able to bring our research vessel back to Iceland once more to carry out further studies of the many species of whales found around Iceland’s coast. For the new research, we are delighted to be working alongside our friends from the University of Iceland.”

A launch event at Reykjavik Harbour on Thursday morning (August 2nd) will be attended by Icelandic politicians, University of Iceland representatives and others.

Song of the Whale’s team of sailors and scientists use underwater hydrophones and photo identification techniques to gather valuable data which enables a better understanding of cetaceans and the many threats they face. They will also use video range tracking techniques to investigate minke whale behaviour in the whale watching area of Faxafloi Bay and compare this with minke behaviour in a non-whale watching area, off Gardur.

Icelandic students will be among the participants joining the team onboard and guests will include politicians, celebrities and other VIPs. There will also be plenty of chances for members of the public to visit the research vessel at scheduled port visits over the coming weeks.

IFAW works around the world to protect whales and promotes responsible whale watching as a humane alternative to whaling.

Notes to Editors –

Media are invited to attend a launch event and photo opportunity at the Old Harbour in Reykjavik, beside Elding’s whale watching boats, at 11am on Thursday. University representatives will hand over their acoustic device to the Song of the Whale team.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For further information about R/V Song of the Whale and recent projects conducted by the team, visit www.marineconservationresearch.co.uk

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