More than 7,400 whales were killed off Morteon Bay and Byron Bay between 1952 and 1962 as they innocently made their way north from the Antarctic on annual winter migration to warmer waters.
Today, there is no commercial whaling in Australian waters - whale numbers are increasing and momentum is building for a Pacific whale sanctuary. It’s believed that as many as 4,000 humpback whales now visit the East Coast each year between the end of June and the end of August.
In the next ten weeks, thousands of people will take to the cliffs of South East Queensland and Far North New South Wales and to boats to witness our ever expanding whale spectacular. But, instead of hunting and killing, the mission today is to look and learn about the giant, pre-historic mammals.
To coincide with the start of the official 2003 whale watching season, a new book, “A Whale’s Song”, is being launched tomorrow in Byron Bay by one of Australia’s leading whale research institution, the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre, to raise much-needed research funds to look at the breeding success of humpback whales, mapping DNA and working on whale conservation projects in the South Pacific. Other Centre projects include establishing a single Pacific data base for humpback whale identification, and supporting satellite tracking of whale migration.
“A Whale’s Song” traces the history of humpback whales and the Eastern Australia whaling industry. It also outlines the extensive efforts of scientists, governments, researchers, conservationists and volunteers to learn more about whales and to protect them, including the quest to understand the whale’s song.
In the 1950s and 1960s studies of ocean sounds picked up long strings of strange and varied sounds. Over time, the researchers discovered that the choruses were humpback whales singing. Now, with sophisticated equipment, the distinctly different tunes sung by whales in different breeding grounds in the Pacific are being compared to help us understand why they sing and where they travel.
“A Whale’s Song” is being launched tomorrow (Friday, 13 June) at the Byron Beach Hotel by the patron of the SCUWRC, renowned author, Di Morrissey. In her foreword to the book, Ms Morrissey wrote: “Perhaps one day we will find the key to decode the language and decipher the songs of cetaceans and in so doing, advance technology and knowledge in our world.”
“A Whale’s Song” was written by Timothy Goodson Harris and includes magnificent pictures by Trish Franklin, Olive Andrews, Eric Wright and Max Egan. It is priced at $19.95 (plus $5 postage and handling) and can be ordered by telephoning 1300 557 875 or by visiting the website www.scu.edu.au/whales .
12 June 2003
Further Information: Chris Stewart 0418 431484