WAXA Blue Whale Project – 2004

Western Australian Exercise Area Blue Whale Project – 2004 Summary Report

McCauley, R., Bannister, J., Burton, C., Jenner, C., Rennie, S., Kent, C. (2004).
Western Australian Exercise Area Blue Whale Project – 2004 Summary Report. Unpubl. report.

A group of Western Australian researchers has been studying the presence of blue whales, presumed to be primarily pygmy blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda, in the Perth Canyon area west of Fremantle, WA, from summer 1999-2000 to summer 2003-2004. The Canyon lies within a larger area of importance to the Australian Navy, the Western Australian Exercise Area (WAXA). The Canyon is a steep sided feature at its eastern end which dissects the continental shelf and runs west to reach the abyssal plain. Based on aerial survey and acoustic detections, blue whales arrive in the Canyon as early as November, with the numbers of animals steadily increasing to a peak in the following March – May. From aerial survey line transect analyses, and allowing for ‘missed’ animals, an average of 30 (95% CI 15 – 58) blue whales are present at the peak season. After May the number of whales drops, so that by late June most animals have left, although a few acoustic detections are made into July. There is evidence that early in the season……

Download paper in PDF format (6.3mb)