Breaching humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, California, United States
Credit: © Sam Greenstone

A few friendly humpback whales are helping mankind understand what goes on just beneath the ocean’s surface.

A team of researchers, supported by the World Wildlife Fund, recently attached non-invasive sensors and cameras to the backs of several whales swimming in the frigid waters off Antarctica. Each sensor and camera remains on the whale for up to 48 hours before falling off.

In the video, a humpback whale takes viewers on an underwater journey through the crystal clear Antarctic waters as it swims through ice chunks, peeks out at gorgeous glacier vistas, and finally spots a few out of place humans standing on a boat in the sub-zero temperatures.

The project has already provided scientists with a plethora of useful data including how much the whales eat, how they socialize, and where they travel to.

Humpback whale in Alaska photographed by WWF
Credit: © Sylvia Earle / WWF

“This provides volumes of information that we can share to promote education, conservation and protection of whales and the most remote, unique and beautiful wilderness on the planet, Antarctica,” Dr. Ari Friedlaender, a whale ecologist and National Geographic explorer who has worked in the Antarctic for over 15 years, said in a statement. “Every time we deploy a tag or collect a sample, we learn something new about whales in the Antarctic.”

According to the WWF, there is still plenty left to learn about whales, and still plenty humans can do to protect them.

A humpback whale spouts water from its blowhole in a photo taken by the WWF
Credit: © David Southern / WWF-Colombia

“As climate change and krill fishing increase in the Antarctic, the pressure to learn more about these majestic animals becomes more urgent,” the WWF said in a post, adding, “Critically endangered Antarctic blue whales – Earth’s largest living creature – are still a mystery to us. Their population is not recovering and scientists do not know why.”

This new data, and the beautiful footage that came with it, will help scientists both understand the whales and map the most important areas where they feed, “so we can protect them before it’s too late.”