‘D-Tags‘ — also known as suction tags — are data collection devices placed on the orca with a five foot pole. Getting these on the whale isn’t a easy task. The boat must match the speed of the mammal while driving parallel to it in order to avoid disturbance as the whale travels. Once placed on the orca, the device tracks the movement of the whale in comparison to vessels in close proximity, watching to see if any normal patterns of the whale are disrupted by large boats.
Many are worried that the crowded environment might be negatively affecting the whales. Scientists know that the orcas are communicating louder because of the boats in the water. This added noise makes it harder for the whales to hunt, but researchers are confident the D-Tags will give them better insight.
Do you think placing D-Tags on whales is a good idea? Should less vessels be allowed in the area? What could people in the surrounding area do to help the orcas?
- Ashley Ahearn: Science and Environment Reporter for KUOW