Our Mission

Our mission is to ensure present and future generations of the community have access to enjoy, appreciate and care for whales and dolphins.

We aim to sustain whale & dolphin watching for future generations by improving the understanding about marine mammals through the collection of data on physical water properties, whale & dolphin abundance, distribution, behaviour and movement patterns and to establish community involvement in southeast Queensland and beyond.

 

We collect, analyse and publish information on whales and dolphins for the public with the support of our community members and provide adaptation strategies for whales and dolphins in urbanised coastal waters and bring the community closer to nature.

 


Background

We can only make a difference if we know how…. It is therefore crucial to determine how whales & dolphins use their habitat and turn the information into effective protection. Even though the population of Humpback Whales is slowly recovering they are still an endangered species in some countries and a threatened species in Australia - like many other marine megafauna. Increasing coastal development and expected current shifts with climate change are putting new challenges on the survival of marine mammals. Their life cycles are closely bound to the seasonal changes of ocean currents and temperatures. Expected shifts in ocean physics require fast adaptation. Any additional stress during their migration phase could have undue negative effects. Because of their presence in shallow coastal waters they may be susceptible to disturbance from boating and impairment of near-shore waters from coastal development. The whale watching industry has become a multi-million Dollar industry in Australia, and, like any other industry, should be based on sound sustainable and environmental principles. Such environmental management principles can only be put in place if there is sufficient knowledge about the required conditions for the well-being of whales & dolphins. As a consequence the investigation of fine scale habitat use of whales & dolphins is timely and in our hands.

Aims

We aim to protect resting areas for whales and reduce impacts on dolphins.

We investigate the value of southeast Queensland as a migration, resting and opportunistic feeding ground for whales.

We involve whale & dolphin watching enthusiasts and the whale watching industry in whale research and provide a community engagement hub for marine sciences and participation through land and boat based surveys

We measure spatial distribution of currents, temperature, bathymetry, salinity, turbidity during whale migration within 25 km offshore.

We analyse the relationship between movement of whales & dolphins and physical water properties.

We investigate potential impacts of urbanisation on the behavioural response of whales & dolphins (shark nets, boats, dredging, pollution, debris, constructions).

We observe individual life histories, social role, habitat use, reproductive status and mating systems

We provide adaptation strategies and a contact for all whale & dolphin releated matters on the Gold Coast and beyond in relation to impacts of coastal development on marine megafauna.

Methods

Surveys - Visual surveys are established through land, boat and aerial based observation along southeast Queensland recording abundance, distribution and behaviour of Humpback Whales and other marine life. The information gathered during the surveys are analysed for abundance and distribution, relationship to physical parameters and behaviour. 

Video recording - National Geographic’s Crittercam, a video recording system, documents on the behaviour of individuals and allows establishing of short term tracks by collecting speed, depth, temperature and direction. National Geographic’s Crittercam is used as a data collector to investigate short term behavioural changes.

Acoustics - Certain frequencies of sound are recorded by hydrophones at varies locations along the shoreline

Skin & blow biopsy - Whale flakes (whale skin that is shed off naturally) are collected from the water for skin biopsy and exhaled breath collected. This  provides a health status identification (stress indicator).

Water properties -Water column profile data (current velocity and direction) are collected by ADCPs (Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers). We undertake spot downcasts of CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth), salinity, light penetration, turbidity, chlorophyll and turbulence.