Blue whales tracked with sound technology

Oct. 4, 2012 at 7:00 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Scientists say new acoustic technology lets them track and locate blue whales in Antarctic waters from hundreds of miles away by eavesdropping on their songs.

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."

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