Keep an eye out for the Song of the Whale as it carries out research on the beaked whales who live around the Canary Islands.Beaked Whale

The boat is the research vessel for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
There are at least 20 species of beaked whales but they are so difficult to observe that only a few have been studied in detail and some species have never been seen alive. Eleven species have been discovered since 1908, the latest being Perrin’s beaked whale in 2002 and it is highly possible that there are species of beaked whales yet to be discovered.

Although little is known about their lives and habits it is known that they face many threats in all of the oceans of the world. In parts of the Pacific Ocean, beaked whales are hunted; further threats include the destruction of their habitat (particularly by deep sea trawling); reduction in prey/food (over-fishing); accidental entanglement in fishing nets (by-catch); and pollution in the sea (from chemical run-off and plastics, which they may accidentally ingest). Underwater noise pollution also poses a major threat to beaked whales. There is increasing evidence that they are particularly vulnerable to loud man-made sounds. The overall pattern of recent mass-strandings (when large numbers of whales end up dead or dying on beaches) has led to mounting concern that certain types of loud military sonar may result in the injury or death of beaked whales.

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Above Photo – A beaked whale off El Hierro, Taken by crew members of The Song of the Whale under a research permit issued by the Government of the Canary Islands

And we have seen examples of the damage that military sonar can do to whales and dolphins in these waters here in recent years, when the appearance of numerous dead cetaceans coincided with Nato manoeuvres near these shores.

During their stay (they are also visiting the Azores, Madeira and the waters off the coast of Portugal) the team will work to develop and use techniques to identify beaked whale hab¬itat ‘hotspots’ that would benefit from protection from harmful human activi¬ties. Visual surveys will be undertaken, but as beaked whales are so hard to see, the team and collabora¬tors also hope to develop equipment and computer software to detect them underwater from the sounds they make.

The SOTW team will also be hosting local students and scientists on board to work together and share information about the non-invasive techniques IFAW uses to study whales and their marine habitats.
Source: Island Connections