fredag 15 november 2013

Humpback Project Start / Knølhval i fokus

Right now, the fishing for herring is in full swing along the coast of Northern Norway. The herring does not, however, only attract fishermen, but also humpback whales and orcas who turn up to feast on the fish.

As a marine biologist, I started up a project in 2010/2011 to collect photos for photo-identification of humpback whales in Norway - a project that has grown enormously since the start and with interesting results starting to emerge about the ecology and migration patterns of humpbacks in Norwegian waters.

The last Sun of the year? The Polar Darkness period starts 21 November here in Tromsø

This winter I continue my data-collection of fluke-photos for the North Norwegian Humpback Whale Catalogue (NNHWC) as usual, but this year it will also form a part of a larger mulitidisciplinary research project here in Tromsø in Northern Norway with focus on oceanography, fish-stock size estimates using hydroacoustics and testing out of new techniques to monitor this species.

Monitoring pelagic fish at 70kHz and 200kHz

Because no two humpbacks look exactly the same (the flukes have various patterns and markings) the pictures can be used in much the same way as human fingerprints to identify individual whales. If enough pictures from various places are collected over long time, the same individuals may be seen several times and one can start to get an idea of e.g. migration patterns and the population size.


Unique humpback fluke - accompaigned by two orcas

Already from the first trip, we were able to identify approximately ten different humpback whales. I will present the scientific results in future posts - this is only be a pure photographic gallery with photos shot from the boat while the hydroacoustician run some test transects showing us dense balls of herring - and the feeding humpbacks were not far away.



söndag 3 november 2013

Comet Galore

Finally a night with clear skies here in Northern Norway - and an opportunity for some astrophotography!

While comet ISON is getting all the media-attention, the sky is filled with so many more exciting comets right now and on the night between 01 - 02 Nov I set out to see how many different comets I could catch with a DSLR in just one single night.

No less than 5 different comets were visible. While comet ISON is still a huge challenge (at least for me) to see visually, Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy and 2P/Encke were easily visible as distinct green fuzzballs in 10x binoculars. Comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR continues its spectacular "17P/Holmes-outburst" and 154P/Brewington was only just detectable as a faint green smudge.

All photos are taken using Nikon D800 and Nikkor 300mm with 1,7 x converter and are stacks of multiple 20-30 sec exposures at ISO 640-1000.

While I enjoyed the comet feast, pulsating aurorae added to the beauty of the night sky.