Pacific Whale Foundation researchers arrived this week in Hervey Bay, a quaint community in northern Queensland. For the next few months, I will be documenting research efforts and managing our little shop as humpback whales make their annual migration from the subtropic waters of eastern Australia to their feeding grounds of Antarctica. Stephanie Stack, M.Sc. PWF’s Senior Research Biologist and Research Assistant Laura Behm will be photographing flukes and recording data of daily sightings for ongoing research in the area.
Began in 1984, Pacific Whale Foundation’s Australia humpback whale research program is the longest running study of this population. The overarching goal of PWF’s research is to advance understanding of humpback whale biology, population status and impacts of human activities on the population. PWF’s Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale ID Catalog is a compilation of 31 seasons of research, combining detailed data on life history, behavior, spatial distribution, and human impacts.
Australia surprisingly reminds me a lot of the US west coast. I saw stunning landscape for nearly 300 km traveling north from Brisbane to Hervey Bay. Lots of eucalyptus trees, green rolling hills and pristine coastlines. The whales seem more inquisitive in the shallow waters Platypus Bay off Fraser Island.
The local people I have met are extremely gracious, polite and eager to greet us when we opened shop, often stopping by just to share their whalewatching experience or inquire about this season’s research team. I’m looking forward to my first whale season “down under”.