The project, which began on July 31, involves Oregon State University researchers' attempts to attach 24 trackers to the fins of blue whales and fin whales, whose locations will be tracked for a year. In a separate project, eight whales will be tagged in an effort to learn about their deep-water foraging habits.
Preliminary results will be reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service next spring. Field work is also planned for 2015 and 2016. Data will be combined with oceanographic information to obtain results that can only be achieved under water.
The Navy estimates that the work may kill up to 155 mammals and injure 2,000 others. The study begins as environmental groups fight the military and the fisheries service over a permit that allows the Navy to use sonar and explosives charges.