Whale song could reveal true impact of slaughter

A team of scientists is about to leave New Zealand aboard a research ship on a mission to discover just how badly whale hunts have affected the blue whale population in the Southern Ocean.

The research ship, Tangaroa will track blue whale song using state-of-the-art listening equipment over a six week period in order to work out exactly how many remain.

Fifty years ago, blue whales in the Southern Ocean numbered more than 250,000 but, due to commercial whaling, that number fell to only about 2000.

Amazingly, the blue whale song is so loud, and the ship's equipment so advanced, the scientist should be able to start tracking the whales not long after leaving port in Wellington.

Blue whale
Blue whale