Monitoring population dynamics of Western right whales - Progress Report on activities for 2017

To continue an annual series of aerial surveys off the southern Australian coast between Cape Leeuwin WA and Ceduna SA since 1993, a survey was undertaken over five days, 23-27 August, 2017. A total of 1546 animals was sighted, including 506 calves and 4 ‘yearlings’; these include double counts, given that each flying leg is covered twice, ‘outward’ and ‘inward’. For comparison with previous years’ results, maximum counts for each leg are taken; for the 2017 survey, the comparable counts are 780 individuals of which 294 were cows accompanied by calves of the year. From 5603 photographic images obtained, 487 have been selected for computer-assisted ‘matching’ with those (some 8000 images of over 2000 individuals) already available in the catalogue.

Full details, including trend analysis since 1993, current population size, and distribution information, will be included in the Final Report due on 30 March 2018.

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