Finding A Way to…
This autumn, in a first for the eastern Great Australian Bight, IFAW Oceania and our colleagues from Marine Conservation Research (who operate IFAW’s unique whale research vessel Song of the Whale) carried out the first systematic boat-based survey to look at the diversity, distribution and presence of whales and dolphins in an area to the west of Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
Back in 2010, the Government opened this area up for offshore oil and gas exploration, resulting in Bight Petroleum applying for permission to conduct seismic surveying between March and May 2014. In an unprecedented move, IFAW was forced to carry out this research as we believe that this essential information was urgently needed in this area before decisions are made about industrial development in this pristine and remote marine environment.
Our fieldwork involved both visual and acoustic techniques. Acoustic data is vital when studying these animals, as they spend most of their time underwater, and what we see on the surface is only a snapshot. We will be presenting our full findings to the Kangaroo Island community during National Science Week 11-18 August 2013.
Our exciting journey covered a range of underwater habitats, from shallow waters and continental slope to submarine canyons. I’m delighted to say that we now know a little bit more about the cetacean biodiversity in this area, and it is our hope that the new data about the whales and dolphins found off Kangaroo Island will help inform conservation management decisions in this special place.
If you want to find out more about our research, look out for my next blog tomorrow, 12 August.