One of New England’s most infamous whaling ships is hanging up the harpoon and setting out on a voyage of peace! The “Charles W. Morgan” was built in 1841 and traversed the globe hunting whales up until the 1920s. Having embarked on 37 missions slaughtering whales for their blubber, the goal of the ship’s 38th voyage is to learn about whales in an effort to bolster conservation efforts.
The crew aboard the converted Charles W. Morgan is teaming up with NOAA scientists to study whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Sonar technology and heavy ship traffic among other things has made the ocean a pretty noisy place for whales. Whales rely on acoustics in the ocean water columns for communication and foraging. If they are constantly bombarded with mixed signals, they are more likely to swim into fishing nets or get struck by ships (…or so the researchers will find out!).
Unlike Japan’s team of “marine researchers,” this team is actually providing useful information to the scientific world in the hopes that human-related whale deaths can be eliminated in the Stellwagen Bank. Looking at how underwater noise impacts a whale’s ability to avoid ships and fishing nets, the reform of the Charles W. Morgan is a shining example of how humane wildlife studies (that does not involve killing or EATING the specimen) promotes REAL conservation!
Check out this video to learn more about NOAA and the awesome research the crew plans to highlight during the Charles W. Morgan’s voyage this summer. They certainly deserve a round of applause!
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons