Friday, July 31, 2009


Today we tested acoustic equipment such as the sonobuoy pictured here, which records sound from an underwater microphone or hydrophone and broadcasts the signal back to the ship using radio. As usual, there are little glitches to work out, but most of the equipment is working very well. We were ready to look for whales in the afternoon. Weather was very calm -- excellent for visibility and tagging. The visual observers saw dolphins, but we did not find either of our prime candidates for tagging -- Cuvier's beaked whales or pilot whales.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

30 July Transit

We are underway from Italy. Unlike yesterday, today we have winds up to 40 knots. Too rough for sighting whales and putting out the tag boat. The team is testing acoustic and computer equipment, practicing operating the observer data logging programs, etc. While the cruise is in the Mediterranean, readers who are concerned about the bombing in Mallorca should rest assured that we are far away.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

29 July Departure

The ship left port at about 0900 in perfect weather, warm, no clouds, and calm seas. After a safety drill and initial all hands meeting to go over the science plan, the visual observers got their equipment ready to work, and they started observations after lunch. We are transiting through the Pelagos Sanctuary today, so our only marine mammal related activity is sighting for marine mammals. The visual observers sighted large numbers of sea turtles and dolphins in the good visibility conditions, along with two Cuvier’s beaked whales, and a fin and two sperm whales in the distance. The more complicated installation and testing of acoustic gear is underway.

28 July Arriviamo

The research team arrived in La Spezia on the 27th and 28th of July along with loads of equipment – hydrophones, cable, big eye binoculars, tagging equipment, and more computers than people. The task for these days is to unpack, organize and install equipment. No escaping the last trip to the hardware and electronics stores to buy wire, connectors, batteries … The Permit Division of the Office of Protected Resources issued the scientific research permit for this research well ahead of schedule, relieving the anxiety of worrying whether it will be issued in time. Tagging equipment is ready to go. So is the entire crew.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Expedition Overview

Cruise Dates: July 27 - September 7, 2009 -

Research Cruise MED 09 (short for Mediterranean 2009) is part of an ongoing, international, and interdisciplinary effort to better understand whale behavior, particularly the effects of sound in the sea on beaked whales and other marine mammals. Researchers want to understand how whales change their behavior when they hear different sounds, both natural and man-made. The blog will be starting soon. For more information view:
» Cruise Overview