Estimation of population abundance and mixing of southern right whales in Australian and New Zealand regions

This report provides an overview of key photo-identification datasets of southern right whales and evaluation of their population dynamics and connectivity/structuring in Australian waters. This includes evaluating progress on national Conservation Management Plan targets in Australian waters and prioritising conservation efforts at the state level. Overall, sightings data of individuals supports current understanding of habitat use and migration pathways of two sub-populations within Australia. Analysis of population trends show that while the south-west sub-population continues to increase, there are signs of a slowing recovery rate, with a potential emerging cyclical pattern of years of low sightings of females with calves. The opportunistic data from the south-east region and inability to account for varying effort on sightings currently limits robust population trend estimation either at the sub-population or national scales. Several recommendations are provided for further work.

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