Australian researchers say the technology is 90 percent successful in tracking the mammals through the low-frequency calls the blue whales emit, Australia's Environment Minister Tony Burke said in a statement Thursday.
The research is part of an Australian-led international project to discover the abundance, distribution and behavior of the species -- which can grow as long as 100 feet, and was decimated in the early 1900s by industrial-scale whaling.
"This research reinforces Australia's commitment to non-lethal research of whales," Burke said. "This contrasts with Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling' where the alleged research begins with a harpoon. This breakthrough project again shows you don't have to kill a whale to study it."