Notes from the field – MMOA Member Morgane Belleville

unnamed 4

Here at the MMOA, we always enjoy hearing from our valued members, and as soon as we heard about Morganes' recent adventures, we wanted to share them with you. She has shared details about a recent expedition with an exciting sighting. 

“While contracted by EPI Group and working for the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, BGR, on the scientific expedition SO301 onboard the Research Vessel SONNE across the Indian Ocean, the MMO team had the opportunity to witness an amazing sighting: a mother and calf pair of the species Balaenoptera physalus (fin whale). 

On November 29, 2023, the RV SONNE was located near the Rodriguez Triple Junction performing Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) casts over the Kairei hydrothermal vent site at 25° 19.22’ S, 70° 2.43’ E. The sighting conditions were excellent since the vessel was stationary, and the weather conditions were ideal (no wind, slight sea). The animals stayed around the vessel the whole day. They were observed milling, regularly blowing, and swimming slowly below the surface, with the pale colouration of the right jaw visible, a distinctive characteristic of this species. The calf was observed opening its mouth and spy-hopping several times. 

Throughout the day, the pair regularly approached the vessel and circled it multiple times, to the great pleasure of the entire scientific team onboard. It was an incredible moment that no one is going to forget. Although this species is distributed worldwide, there are few records in the area visited, which makes this sighting quite remarkable and worth sharing.”

Morgane Belleville, Lead MMO onboard the RV SONNE during the scientific expedition SO301.”

IMG 6782

IMG 6784

IMG 6783

IMG 6785

MMOA member feedback, ideas, and participation make our organisation thrive, and we encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts with us. We also encourage those who have not yet engaged with us to do so. Your input is vital to our community, and we are thankful for every one of you. If you want to share your comments, ideas or details about recent projects (ensure you have permission to do so), please email us at