Great Ocean Road: another whale hotspot in peril

Southern Right whales (mother and calf) at Logan’s Beach, Warrnambool c. M. Watson, DSELast month The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) marine team held information sessions for local communities on the Great Ocean Road, raising awareness of the risks of oil and gas developments in the waters offshore. 

This week and just before the Christmas holidays, WHL Energy submitted their referral to begin oil and gas exploration in a critical blue whale and southern right whale hotspot. 

The planned seismic testing is expected to take up to 30 days to complete, and could operate 24 hours a day, at intervals of just 11 seconds – that’s up to 235,363 blasts into the ocean!

This plan to carry out seismic testing off the coast of Warrnambool and Port Campbell could spell disaster for the huge variety of whale species that use this area at different times throughout the year.

IFAW believes that this area is critical to many whales and scientific research shows us it is virtually impossible to find a time of year when whales will not be present in this area.

Put simply, the area needs to be protected from any oil and gas exploration – some areas are simply too special to risk.

If successful, WHL will commence seismic testing at one of two times, both of which spell bad news for endangered whales.

During November and December Blue whales arrive with the annual Bonney Upwelling, coming to forage on abundant krill in the area. At this time southern right whales may be travelling through the same area to Antarctic waters, accompanied by their newborn calves

Throughout April and May Blue whales are still known to be feeding in this area before they depart for warmer waters to breed. Heavily pregnant southern right whales may be migrating through the area to their coastal calving and nursery grounds in Victoria

It isn’t just the whales threatened by this deafening seismic testing. People’s livelihoods could also be at risk.

April and May are the key operating times for the local squid fishery and November/December is the peak period for the rock lobster and giant crab fisheries in this region.

We urge you to take action today against these developments and want to help you to do so.

Too much is at risk! 

But please hurry, as you only have until New Year’s Eve to make your voice heard. 

We will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and developments throughout 2013.

-- SL

Please tell our Environment Minister, Tony Burke that Victoria’s marine life, and the tourism and fishing industries it supports, must be protected from oil and gas exploration.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime