Dr Trish Franklin

Trish Franklin

PhD, Southern Cross University 2012

Bachelor of Arts (Hons), LaTrobe University, Melbourne 1984

Research Summary

Dr Franklin's research focus is the behaviour and social organisation of humpback whales. She is also President of The Oceania Project (see below). Trish has twenty-five years experience studying the behaviour and social organisation of Humpback whales. Her research has focussed on individual and group social behaviour of migrating humpback whales and the social organisation and temporal segregation of classes of humpback whales during the southern migration in Hervey Bay off the southeast coast of Queensland. Her work is making a direct contribution to the management and conservation of the eastern Australian humpback whales.


Humpback whales: individual and group social behaviour, social organisation and the temporal segregation of maturational and reproductive classes of humpback whales during migration.

During the 1980's Trish studied cultural interactions between Australian Aboriginals and early Europeans in Victoria. She deferred her study of early Australian history to work with Wally Franklin on the successful Bicentennial project, the Re-enactment of the First Fleet. The controversial $14 million project was awarded joint Bicentennial event of the year, with Brisbane's World Expo 88, by Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1989. The story of project is recounted in a recent book.

In 1988 Trish established The Oceania Project as a not-for-profit, NGO to support the conservation of Whales, Dolphins and the Ocean environment through research and education programs. The primary focus of The Oceania Project has been support for a long-term study of the behaviour and ecology of humpback whales in Hervey Bay. Trish's research aboard The Oceania Project's Annual Whale Research Expeditions in Hervey Bay has established a unique long-term photo-identification data set, with extensive individual humpback whale re-sighting histories, ranging from two to over twenty years. The Oceania Project has been affiliated with Southern Cross University since 2000 and became an affiliate of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in 2003.

Grants and Funding

The Oceania Project - Annual Whale Research Expeditions, Hervey Bay: funding generated from participating Interns ($3.2 million) 1989-2013.

International Fund for Animal Welfare Grants ($205,000); 2005-2012.

Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP0562517). Ageing wild vertebrates from their DNA: An investigation using humpback whales. (The Oceania Project (Trish and Wally Franklin), Industry Partners: 2005-2008 ($438,000).

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ($25,000) 1996.


Google Scholar

Collaborative Projects

ARC-Linkage Grant - Research Project: "Ageing wild vertebrates from their DNA; an investigation using Humpback Whales as an example". Industry Partners: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), The Oceania Project and Southern Cross University. The Oceania Project sampled sloughed skin from humpback whales in Hervey Bay for the project.

South Pacific Whale Research Consortium:

  • Eastern Australia/Oceania fluke Matching 1999-2004 to investigate migratory interchange, population structure and estimation of abundance. (Garrigue et al. 2007, Garrigue et al. 2011).
  • Eastern Australia/Oceania and Antarctica fluke matching. (Constantine et al. 2014).
  • Genotype matching. (Anderson et al. 2010, Steel et al. 2011).

Dr Phil Clapham: Soviet commercial whaling catches. (Clapham et al. 2005 and 2009) Andrew Moss, Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage, Environment Division: Long-term assessment of eutrophic conditions in the Hervey Bay Marine Park, Queensland. Stage I & II (1993-2003) (Moss et al. 1997 and 2004).

Dr Nick Gales and Colleagues, Australian Antarctic Division: DNA Analysis of humpback whale faeces to investigate opportunistic feeding by humpback whales in Hervey Bay.

Dan Burns & David Paton, Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre: Photo-identification collaboration using data from Byron Bay, Ballina and Hervey Bay. Abundance estimate (Paton et al. 2006 and 2011), Migratory movements (Burns et al. 2014).

Appointments, Memberships and Affiliations

President, Director & Founder of The Oceania Project. A not-for-profit research & education organisation, established in 1988, dedicated to raising awareness about whales, dolphins and the oceans. Website: oceania.org.au.

Member of The Society for Marine Mammalogy, USA (SMM).

Founding member of Whale and Dolphin Watch Australia Inc. (WADWA). The National Incorporated Association of Australian Commercial Whale-watchers and part of the: International Alliance of Commercial Whale-watchers.

Member of Executive Board and Scientific Adviser to Whale and Dolphin Watch Australia Inc. (WADWA).

Affiliate of The South Pacific Whale Research Consortium (SPWRC).

Member of The Australian Humpback Whale Research Group (AHWRG).