South Pacific Research Projects

Several members of the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre are also members of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium (SPWRC). The SPWRC is a collection of researchers, conservationists and government representatives from around the South Pacific region whose primary aim is to coordinate and facilitate research and to promote conservation of cetaceans within the region.

Collaborative projects with the SPWRC that involve members of the SCUWRC and are currently underway or have recently been completed include:

  • An assessment of interchange of humpback whales between east Australia and Oceania for the years 1999-2004 by comparing photo-identification data collected at Byron Bay and Hervey Bay (1,242 flukes) with those from Oceania (New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and American Samoa) (672 flukes). A manuscript describing the results of this project is currently in review with the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management:
    • Garrigue et al. (In review) 'First assessment of interchange of humpback whales between Oceania and the east coast of Australia'
  • Another two manuscripts describing interchange of humpback whales between east Australia and New Zealand, and East Australia and the Balleny Islands (Antarctica) are also in review with the JCRM:
    • Franklin et al. (In review) 'Eastern Australia (E1 breeding grounds) may be a wintering destination for some Area V Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrating through New Zealand waters'
    • Franklin et al. (In review) 'The Balleny Islands and Ross Sea (Antarctic Area V) may be the summer feeding area for Eastern Australian (E1 breeding group) Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)'
  • Further analyses to include the 2005 season flukes for the EA-Oceania interchange study are also currently being completed.
  • Standardisation of genetic techniques to enable matching of genotypes from genetic samples between EA and Oceania
  • Comparison of genotypes of whales from samples collected in EA and Oceania to determine interchange between the regions
  • A comparison of mitochondrial DNA to determine breeding groups within Australia and the South Pacific region
  • A study of the scale, scope and potential mitigation measures for cetacean interactions (i.e. depredation) of longline fisheries in Samoa

This research is a vital part of the work conducted as part of the approved programs of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium.

South Pacific Whale Research Consortium