Monitoring Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Behaviour in a Highly Urbanised Coastline: Gold Coast, Australia
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The east coast of Australia experiences one of the world's largest annual humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) migration, with an estimated 14 000 individuals in 2010. However, increasing coastal development is accelerating the environmental pressure on migrating marine megafauna. Consequently, solutions to better manage humpback whale presence in urbanised waters are required. We have developed a novel survey method that can be applied to operating whale watch vessels, better integrating the tourism industry into research and ultimately coastal management in urbanised coastal waters. Preliminary results from the first season of observation (May-November 2010) in the Gold Coast bay showed a successful survey return of over 500 individuals that included 14 286 behavioural state observations. The data were analysed in terms of most commonly observed behaviours, movement, pod size and composition. The numbers of mothers with calves were highest in September and October and both resting and feeding behaviours were documented, indicating the importance of the bay for these individuals. Our pilot study demonstrated that the benefits of whale watch, boat-based data collection can outweigh its limitations when strategically deployed and carefully analysed.
Global Challenges in Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified