Jorge Acevedo Ocean Expeditions fellowship

Non-lethal whale research

Ocean Expeditions fellowship receiver Jorge Acevedo had an incredibly successful trip onboard ‘Australis’ in early 2010, conducting non-lethal whale research.

The Chilean non-lethal program began in 2000, however, funding was short-lived & the program ended in 2008. Because of this we invited Jorge to continue on with the research under our new fellowship program, where the only ‘catch’ is that the results must be published for the world to see.

Single-handed, Jorge obtained 64 individual sightings, positive photo identifications of 39 Humpback whales, 7 Antarctic Minke whales & 9 Killer whales. He also retrieved 23 biopsy, samples which were a mix of Humpback & Antarctic Minke whales. He also found 1 positive photographic match of Humpbacks from the Antarctic peninsula & Costa Rica and 1 positive photographic match of Humpbacks in the Antarctic peninsula & Ecuador. However, the most exciting result was the third match of a Humpback that was recorded in the peninsula and also in French Polynesia. This was the first EVER positive match between the two populations confirmed by photo ID.

Some of the encounters were a 100% success, recording close up photos of the dorsal fins, then the fluke & finally a good skin sample, thus providing the best possible set of data. (In fact the data was just as good as the Japanese fatal whaling program, which of course ends in the animals death). The Antarctic Minke biopsies are the first for the CEQUA / INACH catalogue & the total biopsies has dramatically increased the overall catalogue. The ship-based Chilean program running over 8 years acquires an average of 10 Humpback biopsy samples per year, showing the scientific value of small yachts as a good scientific working platform.

Jorge’s work on Australis is part of CEQUA / INACH, SORP (Southern Ocean Research Partnership). All of which play a fundamental part in direct action against the Japanese whaling program. Jorge’s findings were vital enough to go all the way to the top & be presented to the 2010 IWC (International Whaling Commission).

“What else I can say, if not for your invitation none of these good news would have happened, so thank you again and the time invested.” Jorge Acevedo