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Australian Humpback

Western Australian Humpback Whale Health Project

Dr Carly Holyoake, Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Kris Warren and Dr Lars Bejder – Murdoch University, Douglas Coughran AM – The Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia

Degradation of marine habitat important to humpback whales (HBWs, Megaptera novaeangliae) in Western Australia (WA) is of increasing concern as coastally human populated areas grow rapidly, oil and gas exploration and development intensifies, and shipping activity increases. In addition, climate and oceanographic change in the Antarctic, combined with an expanding krill fishery, may have a major impact on HBWs by reducing food and habitat availability. Currently, there are limited means of quantifying the impact this will have on HBWs.

Aims:

The Project aims to collect baseline data on HBW health and causes of mortality via:

  1. identification and characterisation of factors associated with HBW strandings;
  2. determination of baseline and epidemiological information on disease levels and the nutritional status of stranded HBWs.

Credits: Left Photo - David Edmunds. Right photo - Doug Coughran.