Featured Image Credit: Blue Whale Study
By: Sarah Sharkey
Researchers were able to estimate that there were around 50 blue whales in the Great Australian Bight this past summer which is a record seen they started whale aerial surveys. Unfortunately, whale aerial surveys are expensive to conduct, so these scientists had to take another approach to count these blue whales.
Tuna spotters in the region were the reason that the boom of whales was able to be recorded this year. The Blue Whale Study CEO credited southern bluefin tuna spotters for recording these whales. He had this to say, “It’s a remote region, it’s hard to get to, it’s expensive, and it’s risky because you are flying a long way offshore. We are a very small organization and getting the money to do those kinds of surveys is hard; we can’t get out there as often as we would like, so we’ve missed whole years. Commonwealth funding dried up years ago, we had industry funding from oil and gas companies, but over the years that also dropped off. We are fortunate for the existence of the tuna industry in the Bight — that’s the only reason there is a fleet of aircraft out there, searching.”
The recent collaboration between tuna spotters looking for schools of fish to collect and the blue whale scientists has been a great way for researchers to find out more about the blue whale population in this region.
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