WHALE TAGGED IN COOKS HEADS FOR ANTARCTIC

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By Matariki Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 4) - Cook Islands whale research director Nan Hauser received what she says was "an amazing gift" on Christmas day in the form of a satellite signal from a tagged Cook Islands humpback whale.

Three months ago Hauser and her team of whale researchers tagged several whales in the Cook Islands with satellite tags including a mother whale named Jamieson with her calf.

She was tagged on 10 September and her tag transmitted for 15 days before it stopped.

On Christmas Day the tag began transmitting again much to the delight of Hauser.

"Three months later it began beeping, on Christmas Day, showing us her location at approximately 141 west, 46 south which would be about 3,000 kilometers south of the Cook Islands and Tahiti," says Hauser.

"She is on her way to the feeding grounds with her calf."

If Jamieson is heading to the Antarctic feeding ground then it will be the first time researchers can see exactly where these humpbacks migrate.

"This is remarkable," says Hauser. We may be able to see for the first time where these humpbacks migrate to and I am ecstatic."

It is believed that the tag stopped transmitting because Jamieson's calf may have rolled over the mother pushing the tag further into the whales blubber.

The tag cannot transmit unless it is exposed.

Hauser is in Maine, United States, where she continues her whale research projects.

Hauser will return to the Cook Islands during the next whale season, which is from July and runs through October.

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