Photo credit: UH Mānoa Marine Mammal Research Program
The University of Hawaii research team at Manoa Marine Mammal Research have managed to capture rare footage of humpback whale calves nursing in the Maui breeding grounds. This video was captured over the span of 10 days in February 2020, as they used suction-cup tags with cameras, acoustic recorders, depth sensors and accelerometers to follow a group of seven humpback whale calves.
Viewers are able to observe nursing behavior and social interactions between individuals, while the accelerometer data enables them to quantify the fine-scale behavior, movement as well as the breathing patterns of tagged whales. The team also flew drones over the tagged whales to calculate their overall length, body condition and health.
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Each winter, approximately 10,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii, mainly for breeding purposes. The short time period where adult females and their newborn calves spend on the Hawaiian breeding grounds (normally January – March) represents a critical time to gather data.