The Australian Government has provided $1.1 million for a Southern Ocean whale research voyage this summer (not the Japanese kind).

The expert quest will perform important research on endangered whale species in our area.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) will join with Antarctica New Zealand and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who are leading the six week voyage.

The team of international scientists will use underwater acoustic technology to listen for humpback and Antarctic blue whales around the Balleny Islands and in the Ross Sea.

The research will seek to investigate whale ‘hot spots’ in the region, as well as to gather critical information about the populations, abundance and distribution of whales, particularly the endangered Antarctic blue whale.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the Australian Government believes that all information necessary for the contemporary conservation and management of whales can be obtained using non-lethal research methods.

The whale research component of the voyage is part of the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to the International Whaling Commission’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership.

The voyage will depart from Wellington, New Zealand in January 2015.