Thousands of whale images are being combed through by researchers in order to help conserve a calving spot off the coast of Western Australia that was severely affected by the whaling industry.
The researchers believe Geographe Bay, off the coast of south-west Western Australia, is an important calving ground that needs to be protected, and they’re using a 30-year collection of pictures to figure out how many southern right whales have visited the area over time.
Every year, southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to Australia’s coastal seas to breed and calve.
“They will calve within 500 meters or one kilometer of the coast,” said Chandra Salgado Kent, an assistant professor at Edith Cowan University and the project’s lead researcher. According to her, on average, moms bear calves every three years.
Commercial whaling destroyed the population of southern right whales in the nineteenth century. The practice was outlawed in the 1970s, and Australian numbers have increased to an estimated 3,400 individuals since then, although the species remains endangered.
Lead Image: Scientists are using 30 years’ worth of images to see how whales numbers off south-west Western Australia have changed over time. Photograph: Pia Markovic/Edith Cowan University.
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