The Southwest Whale Ecology Study (SouWEST) is collaborative science program established a decade ago which integrates the research expertise of Western Whale Research (WWR), Oceans Blueprint, the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University, and the community outreach and education experience of Echo Gecko Environment and Design.
SouWEST aims to:
- Ensure the long-term conservation of whales and their critical habitats in southwestern Australia.
- Improve the scientific foundation for environmental management and species protection in the region.
- Build on scientific and community observations made during the past 15 years, by applying innovative science approaches and advanced statistical modelling methods.
- Provide education on whale biology to the community.
The primary outcome of the project is to improve the scientific foundation for conservation, management and species protection within the region. The collection of relevant data will enable the quantification of the absolute abundance of whales, the characterisation of their key activities within crucial habitats, and the identification of any potential threats. By encouraging community engagement and working with management agencies, we will promote awareness of the significance of marine species biodiversity and habitats in the southwest and disseminate information required for conservation management.
The key to successful conservation is the need to identify:
- Current cetacean population size and characteristics
- Significant habitats and how cetaceans use them
- Disturbances and human impacts in these habitats
- Implications for cetacean livelihood
- Measures required to reduce human impacts