Geographe Marine Research Ltd’s objectives are:
- To understand the global importance of the Cape Naturaliste area with respect to cetaceans (whales, dolphins) and pinnipeds (e.g., fur seals).
- Develop GMR into a structured organization capable of growth, and continue to deliver projects, attract volunteers and funds.
- To improve and apply cutting edge technology to the identification, tracking and monitoring of whales, and the understanding of their behaviour.
- To examine the impact of climate change and human interactions on these mammals.
- To expand objectives 1-4 beyond the Geographe/Cape Naturaliste area.
- To conduct outreach and education to convey the results of this research to the community, wildlife managers and government.
- To align our research program with governments national strategy for funding.
We will continue to publish the results of this research into the future. This will create new knowledge for a better understanding and management of these magnificent mammals. Initially Western Whale research have three decades of historical data to work with and GMR will assist WWR to publish this data. We have ambitions to continue this work into the future and expand our work potentially world wide.
In the course of undertaking this work, we are building a research institute that has the skills and experience, as well as the systems and procedures to expand our work to other areas well into the future.
Funding this work is vital. To this end GMR has obtained Deductible Gift Recipient status from the Australian Tax Office, so that gifts and donations to GMR are tax deductible. We are registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, and have a Charitable Collections license from the West Australian Government.
This work is critical to improve the management of these mammals. Already recent data provides new evidence that parts of Geographe Bay meet the criteria for classification as an aggregation area for the endangered Southern Right Whales. This work is now being prepared for publication to inform the Commonwealth Government’s next review of the species recovery plan.
The importance of this research cannot be understated. The whale species that pass through Geographe Bay all rely on prey such as krill for their diet. Therefore they are an indicator of the health of the oceans. Any changes in the abundance of krill will affect the whales that rely on them. We cannot detect changes in the behaviour and/or numbers of whales unless we have good base line data to begin with. We need to understand the numbers, the migration patterns, the behaviour, the condition of the whales in order to protect them. A drop in numbers, or of the percentage of mothers with calves, or if we begin to see increasing numbers of malnourished whales should trigger alarm bells. It will only do this if we have the base line data.
Blue whales and southern right whales are critically endangered. Their numbers were decimated by a century and a half of whaling and reduced to an estimated 1% of the original numbers. These two species are slow to recover and we don’t know how human activities, including climate change, are impacting their recovery.