Eavesdropping on sperm whales in Antarctica

Whale researchers such as NIWA Marine Mammal Acoustician Dr Giacomo Giorli are eagerly awaiting the return of RV Tangaroa after its five-week Antarctic voyage.

The moorings team is bringing back precious data from long-term underwater listening devices which the researchers are using to search for signs that sperm whales are finally returning in numbers to the Ross Sea.

Sperm whales were targeted by the whaling industry in the 19th and 20th centuries and more than 70 per cent of their population wiped out. Scientists are now trying to establish if the sperm whale population is making a comeback.