Monitoring Population Dynamics of ‘Western’ Right Whales off Southern Australia 2018-2021 - Progress Report on activities for 2018

Now endangered under the EPBC Act, unsustainable whaling during the 19th and 20th centuries reduced southern right whales to a few hundred animals. They now seem to be recovering slowly in most areas. Since 1993 annual aerial surveys between Cape Leeuwin (WA) and Ceduna (SA) have provided counts and photo-identification data for Australia’s south-western population aggregating close inshore during calving and nursing. To add to this long term dataset, an aerial survey between Cape Leeuwin to Ceduna, with an additional leg between Augusta and Perth up the west coast, was undertaken successfully between 18th and 27th August 2018. A total of 1095 animals were sighted including 381 calves (includes double counts). Counts comparable to previous years are 789 individuals of which 279 were cows accompanied by calves of the year. From 6005 photographic images obtained, 456 have been selected for computer -assisted ‘matching’ with those already available in the catalogue.

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