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Humpback whale distribution

Description: 

Modelling the movement and spatial distribution of humpback whales in the Nearshore waters of the Kimberley

Other Details: 


Kimberley Marine Research Program: Project 1.2.1a

Location: Lalang Garram/Camden Sound Marine Park
Project Leader: Mark Meekan, AIMS
Telphone: 6369 4039
Email: m.meekan@aims.gov.au

Project Aim

Provide a sound understanding of the movement patterns, abundance and distribution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) across the Kimberley region and their use of habitats, in light of the recovery of the population and potential threats from emerging anthropogenic or natural pressures using a staged approach:

  • Phase 1: Amass all existing survey data to develop a spatial model of humpback whale distribution, abundance and habitat use in the Kimberley with a key focus on better defining & describing calving areas.
  • Phase 2: Assess research gaps and conduct field research to fill research gaps (the operational Phase).

Proposed Methods:

  • Compile all existing datasets including; satellite tracking, aerial survey, vessel survey and land based (Pender Bay) surveys.
  • Cost benefit analysis of available survey methods (desktop) and trial of high resolution satellite imagery to survey humpback whales and boat traffic in the Kimberley.
  • Aerial survey using novel (Bathymetric LIDAR and hyperspectral) and standard (SLR camera) digital survey methods to measure whale size and depth (to assist with availability bias correction factors).
  • Based on the results of 1 and 2 conduct further trials in 2016 (e.g. LIDAR or other)

Project Duration September 2015 - June 2017

Location for the project – Lalang Garram/Camden Sound Marine Park

Outcomes

  • Identify the most important areas and the important habitat features and drivers of humpback whale distribution, especially those for mothers and calves.
  • Determine potential overlap with human activities such as boating and shipping.
  • Determine viable survey methods for the future monitoring of this population.

Longer term goals beyond the life of the project

These data will enhance understanding of the important areas and habitats required by this species, providing crucial information needed for their management. This will add to other similar projects on marine fauna and combined with the range of KMRP projects will enhance understanding of the Kimberley marine ecosystem and our ability to manage it into the future.
 

Kimberley Marine Research Program: Project 1.2.1b

Location: Pender Bay
Project Leader: Kelly Waples, DPaW
Telphone: 9219 9796
Email: Kelly.waples@dpaw.wa.gov.au

Project Aim

Monitor Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) at Pender Bay, southern Kimberley region

  • Annual count of humpback whales using Pender Bay in 2013
  • Description of whales using this area including how many mothers with calves and how long they are in the area and the peak of the calving season
  • Add another year into the long term dataset that began in 2009
  • Provide an indicator of the condition of the humpback whale population that breeds in the Kimberley region

Proposed Methods Use optical tools (binoculars and high-powered spotting scope) to count whales using Pender Bay and record their behaviour and age/size (adult, mother/calf)

Project Duration July 2013 - October 2014

Location for the project – Pender Bay, Two Moons Research Base, Southern Kimberley

Outcomes

  • Use of Indigenous knowledge and participation in marine management
  • Improved regional understanding, context and ecological and conservation significance of humpback whales in this area
  • Improved knowledge base for environmental planning and management

Longer term goals beyond the life of the project

Establish a long term monitoring program led by the local Indigenous community of the humpback whales using Pender Bay to understand the importance of the area for whale calving, resting and use during the annual northern migration.

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Presentations

Thums M, Ferreira L, Jenner C, Meekan M, Waples K. Modelling the spatial distribution of humpback whales in the Kimberley WAMSI Presentation at Parks and Wildlife, Kensington (8 August 2017) (Presentation Audio and Slides

 

Salgado Kent C, Waples K, Bowles A, Raudino H. Monitoring of Humpback Whales at Pender Bay, southern Kimberley region WAMSI Presentation at Parks and Wildlife, Kensington (8 August 2017) (Presentation Audio and Slides)

 

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