Blue Whales

Blue Whales

A 24m long pygmy blue whale gets curious and comes in for a closer look at our Zodiac! Photo by Micheline Jenner

The Centre for Whale Research is part of a consortium of Institutions and individuals, whom are studying blue whales along the Western Australian coastline. The work is focused primarily on the Perth Canyon which lies to the west of Fremantle. Detailed information about the activities and updates of the other researchers involved in this study can be found here.

The Centres’ part in this partnership is to provide a boat based study capability contributing to various aspects of the project. The main components the Centre is responsible for are:

Is this a bite mark?!This pygmy blue whale has a huge semi-circular piece of its caudal peduncle missing. Scaled against the dorsal fin to tail base on this 20-21m long whale, the notch is 1.0 to 1.2m across – that’s one big bite! Photo by Curt Jenner

  1. Photo-identification
  2. Genetic sampling
  3. Behavioural Observations
  4. Satellite tracking

Micheline Jenner (CWR) is also a principal spotter for the aerial surveys and the Centres vessels assist with acoustic logging and krill density mapping.

Advances in understanding for this research programme that have come about from CWR boat surveys are:

  1. Proof that the Perth Canyon is a feeding area for pygmy blue whales
  2. Evidence that blue whales use the Canyon for periods of between 2 to 4 weeks each year and that they return annually.
  3. Identification of preferred habitats (depth and bathymetry related)which are linked to krill distribution.
  4. Quantification of surface and dive intervals for use in aerial survey abundance estimates
  5. Evidence of a migratory link with whales that feed in the southern convergeance area 500km south of the Australian continent.

A more detailed report can be viewed at WAXA2004.PDF in publications