Heading Down Under

Welcome to our first installment of "Notes from the Field".  Hard to believe another year has passed and we are on our way back 'Down Under' to start our 27th year of research in Australia !  For the next three months we will post daily the joys, trials and tribulations of what it is like to study humpback whales in the field.  From Maui we head to Sydney, and then to Hervey Bay to pick up our Landcruiser, and back south on 3.5 hour jaunt to collect our research boat from storage in Brisbane, then we'll hit the Bruce Highway and head north.

We'll jostle and bounce north for some 1600 kms overfour days, stopping every few hundred kms to fuel up at roadhouses and small towns.  Our destination: the Far Tropical North. Where the Reef meets the Rainforest.  Port Douglas.  It is here we will begin our second season of research trying to determine the population dynamics and habitat use of humpback whales inside this remote section of the Great Barrier Marine Reef Park.  Virtually nothing is known of this subpopulation, aside from our ground-breaking work last year.

This season we have added some new technology to allow us to provide you with a better 'virtual ride' on our research boat.  Hopefully you have noticed our spiffy new blog site (thanks to out IT guys).  This will allow us to communicate nearly 'real time' and provide better quality images, video and chatting capabilities.  You can check us out on FaceBook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Whale-Foundation/109925212362570?r...) or on Twitter as well (http://twitter.com/PacificWhale).  We even have a new YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/PacificWhaleFND) where we will be downloading daily videos and news.

I am joined in the field  again this year by Annie Macie and Amanda Hutsel.  This will be my fourth year working with Annie as our lead photographer.  Amanda has been a member of the research team for five years and she is our head data curator, and does the majority of our matching. Each of us will take turns writing the "Notes" this year, which should prove interesting, educational, and entertaining (we hope!).

We'll spend about month in Port Douglas, then head south to the Whitsunday Islands for few weeks, then off to Hervey Bay, and we will end up in Eden, NSW (about 550 km south of Sydney in October).  Every day is new, different and challenging.  Thanks again for all your support and making our research possible.  Settle back and get comfortable -- oh and hang-on, it can get rough in the research boat.

Aloha Maui!  G'day Australia!

Cheers mates,

Greg Kaufman

Greg Kaufman