Field work in Vestfjord

Northern Norway May-October 2023

We finally can continue our work in the Vestfjord! After a long break, we now have the financial means and logistics to start with and have been able to set up a small field station near Bodø. Since May we have been going regularly to the Vestfjord to do research on marine mammals and the marine ecosystem. New biology students from Nord Uni in Bodø are on board this time.

We are in the process of deepening our cooperation with the university again and are trying to strengthen it so that we can reintroduce the popular marine mammal course.

Right now, we are training the students exclusively with donations that we receive for Ocean Sounds. We see it as one of our important tasks to pass on our knowledge and to train other aspiring biologists in the art of whale watching and, above all, acoustic field research, due to the fact we still know way too little about these animals.

We only accept a limited number of long-term students from Nord Uni because the training is time-consuming and we need long-term assistance with data analysis.

This year we have already seen several whale species, especially the pilot whales, of which we have a long-term photo ID catalog of over 400 individuals and recognize these animals well by their scars and appearance.

In June the porpoises give birth and can be seen between the archipelago and in the Vestfjord, in addition we have also seen minke, humpback and fin whales feeding as plankton entering the Vestfjord.

The highlight in June were the many basking sharks, which we have never seen in such large numbers before. Our colleagues are trying to understand the relationships and also the migrations of these animals and it is believed that they migrate here from the waters in Portugal.

Of course, there are always individual groups of orcas looking for herring or seals along the coast. Especially around the Lofoten many groups were seen again this year. We have been studying orcas since 1998 and built a good basic knowledge of the groups that come to the Vestfjord in the summer.

After the military sonar exercises ceased or the summer, we found more sperm whales in the Vestfjord. These great animals come to look for food in the depth of the Vestfjord and they are sensitive to sounds and noise.

This summer has been challenging because of increased and irregular wind and changing weather conditions due to a changing ocean environment which comes with the global warming. It has been almost impossible to do our work on a small 7m RIB and we are in dire need of a larger boat. The larger boat will be safer and allows us to be more flexible and follow the whales’ paths.

We need your help for this! If you want to support our work, please donate here:

Every penny counts!

We try to understand the whole picture of the ecosystem in the sea and explicitly study the behavior and, above all, the communication of whales and dolphins that are at the top of the food web. This gives us a lot of information about the prey, especially plankton and fish stocks, and we often see changes in the ecosystem very early on.

Here is an anecdote about pilot whales:

Did you know that pilot whales sleep at night? They rest and are very quiet from around 11 p.m. until morning, even when the midnight sun is shining.

We will continue our field work in Norway until October, if you want to follow our actions from there please visit our social media pages:

Facebook: orca.oceansounds

Instagram: oceansounds_org

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