THE Whitsunday Whale Project organised for 40 people from various Whitsunday businesses to embark on a Hydrophone training day recently.
Viper Whitsundays debuted its new vessel for the trip, organised by director of Whitsunday Environmental Olivia Brodhurst and director of Little Fish Tourism Development Consulting Crystal Lacey.
Together, they are spearheading the ‘Whales of the Whitsundays’ project.
The ‘Whales of the Whitsundays’ project joined forces with the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Cetacean Ecology Group, to host the training day for Master Reef Guides and tourism operators in the area, who are eager to contribute to the Humpback Whale Song Long-Term Monitoring Program.
UQ’s Cetacean Ecology Group has been studying the population of humpback whales that migrate along the eastern coast of Australia, for more than 25 years, including monitoring patterns in song.
Hydrophones can be used to listen to underwater sound and then read using a spectrogram.
Genevieve Williams is a PhD Candidate and member of the Cetacean Ecology Group with an undergrad in Marine Biology and masters in Protected Area Management.
Ms Williams is currently doing her PhD on the social learning of humpback whales.
“I’m looking at song patterns within the populations that migrate along the eastern and western coastline of Australia, I’m using song to investigate the patterns of social learning between the two populations,” Ms Williams said.
“I’m using archived data. On the east coast of Australia a lot of that data has been collected by the Cetacean Ecology Group, and they have been recording humpback song off Point Lookout and around the Sunshine Coast area for 25 plus years now, so we’ve got an extensive, long-term program of the whale song along the east coast.
“This is a very important area, up here in the Whitsundays, so understanding the song pattern up here, we’re really interested in that to learn as much as we can about how it’s evolving.
“The training (on Saturday, July 15) was to show the Master Reef Guides and tourism operators the difference between social sounds and song, and to explain to people how the song is structured and what to listen for.
“The recordings that people take from up here will go into our long-term database so we can continue to monitor the song.”