Chris Burton of Western Whale Research (WWR) began collecting boat-based data in co-operation with the Geographe Bay whale-watching industry in 1994. Through this monitoring platform, he was able to collect photo-identification, behavioural, acoustic, distribution and abundance data on blue, humpback and southern right whales.
However, although Chris could collect a wealth of information from the whale-watch vessels, they were only spending a couple of hours a day at sea. This only provided him with a ‘snapshot’ of what the whales were up to.
In 2003, Chris began a long-term, land-based research project to monitor blue, humpback and other whales in Geographe Bay. In 2004, Chris partnered with Ron Glencross of Dunsborough Coast and Land Care (D-CALC) to involve the local community in whale monitoring.
Thanks to the efforts of D-CALC volunteers, there are now over 30 local people devoting their time to recording the different whale species which pass through the bay. This large pool of volunteers provides near-constant day-time monitoring of whales, which greatly contributes to filling in the ‘bigger picture’ of whale occurrence in Geographe Bay.
D-CALC is also involved in a number of other environmental projects. The group was formed in response to coastal erosion and development on the Dunsborough foreshore. D-CALC also plays a part in maintaining shire and other nature reserves in Dunsborough and in the Cape Naturaliste corner, which has included the protection of possum habitat and locating new native plant species and weeds (i.e Juncus acutus).
The objectives of D-CALC are:
- To be aware of the environmental concerns and issues, and the effects of activities on the Town of Dunsborough and of the Cape Naturaliste region.
- To support and carry out projects to protect the environment and biodiversity.
- To obtain funds for projects.
- To ensure that development of the region is compatible with and sustains the environment, without degradation.
- To liaise, cooperate and collaborate with other community groups with similar objectives.
For more information about the work of D-CALC, or if you are a local interested in volunteering with the whale monitoring program, please Contact Us.