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Environment

Whale Census - How many live in the Antarctic?

The Polarstern research vessel is underway in the Antarctic. One of the tasks scientists on it are carrying out is a whale census.

A humpback whale breaches on Stellwagen Bank about 25 miles east of Boston, Monday, Aug. 22, 2005. The area around Stellwagen Bank is designated as a national marine sanctuary. (ddp images/AP Photo/Michael Dwyer).

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Until now, there has been little reliable data on how many of these marine animals there are. Counts have been done on the open seas, but not in the polar sea between the ice floes. From a helicopter, the researchers on the research voyage have the opportunity to discover whales several meters below the ice. They record not only the number of whales sighted, but also the water depth and distance from the coast. Later this information will be used to create a mathematical model that should help estimate the whale population.

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