The goal of this study is to maintain long-term continuous monitoring of humpback whales in East Australia (breeding stock E-1) while also documenting the presence and use of this area by other cetaceans. From these data we provide science-based recommendations to resource managers and stakeholders to contribute to cetacean management strategies.
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are known as a cosmopolitan species; their feeding or breeding grounds are in every ocean on the planet, and they travel thousands of kilometers between them. Because of their vast usage of a variety of ocean ecosystems, long term monitoring of their populations helps researchersto better understand changes over time within the ocean as it relates to this species.
This East Australian population segment use the Antarctic waters as their feeding ground, spending approximately half the year feeding continuously on the abundance of krill provided by the nutrient-rich waters of the deep Southern Ocean. Humpback whales live on the fat reserves accumulated in this time to survive them through their roundtrip migration, and for maternal whales, through the birthing process and first nursing months of their calves’ life.
Studying the complex and encompassing lives of the humpback whale sheds light not only on the health of the animal, but on its habitat and population status.
In order to better inform management of humpback whales that migrate annually along the coast of East Australia, we monitor trends in their abundance, distribution, health and population status. Data are collected during systematic research surveys and aboard platforms of opportunity in Hervey Bay and other locations along the coast. We collect a variety of data to gain a broad understanding of individual and population-level metrics, including photo identification, behavioural observations, and UAS morphometrics.
Susan Bengston-Nash, Griffith University
Lars Bejder, Marine Mammal Research Program, University of Hawaii at Manoa Ted Cheeseman, Southern Cross University and Happywhale.com
2019: Stack, S.H., Currie, J.J., McCordic, J.A., Machernis, A.F. & Olson, G.L. Distribution patterns of east Australia humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hervey Bay, Queensland: a historical perspective. Australian Mammalogy https://doi.org/10.1071/AM18029.
2014: Constantine, R, Steel, D, Allen, J, Anderson, M, Andrews, O, Baker, CS, Beeman, P, Burns, D, Charrassin, J-B, Childerhouse, S, Double, M, Ensor, P, Franklin, T, Franklin, W, Gales, N, Garrigue, C, Gibbs, N, Harrison, P, Hauser, N, Hutsel, A, Jenner, C, Jenner, M-N, Kaufman, G, Macie, A, Mattila, D, Olavarria, C, Oosterman, A, Paton, D, Poole, M, Robbins, J, Schmitt, N, Stevick, P, Tagarino, A, Thompson, K, and Ward, J. Remote Antarctic feeding ground important for east Australian humpback whales. Marine Biology 161: 1087-1093.
2013: Rankin, R.W., Maldini, D. and Kaufman, G. Bayesian estimate of Australian humpback whale calving interval under sparse resighting rates: 1987 – 2009. Journal of Cetacean Research Management 13(2): 109-12.
*For a full list of our research publications, click here: https://www.pacificwhale.org/research/publications/
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