Burrunan dolphins

Cetacean Sightings, Oceania

The Project
In 2011, the Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) was formally described as a new dolphin species found only in  southern and south-eastern Australian waters.  Currently, the Burrunan dolphin appears to be characterized by small, isolated and genetically distinct populations.  We know little about the actual migration pathways or potential barriers to movement and gene flow.  The principle investigator for this project is looking to understand the migration pathways and distributions of these populations. 

The data collected from volunteers will go towards building a better picture of species abundance and distribution across this important region for the Burrunan and other cetacean species.  In addition, unexpected or rarely observed cetacean species (whales and dolphins) in this region have been recorded, including pigmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps), rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis), shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi) and striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba).  Understanding the species composition and diversity is fundamental to  their management, conservation and protection of cetacean species in the southern ocean.

How will this data be used?

The data will be used to document cetacean (whale and dolphin) diversity and abundance across southern and south-eastern Australian waters and build a better understanding of the potential areas of significance and migration pathways these charismatic animals.

How Can You Participate?

If you are planning a kayak, sailing, or boating expedition near the southern and south-eastern waters of Australia, or Bass Strait, you can help with this project.  Throughout the expedition volunteers would be asked to document:

  • GPS location of whale and dolphin sightings
  • note the pod composition (approximate size, adults/calves etc)
  • record behavior (travel/feed/social etc)
  • take photographs
  • and if possible video footage of the species observed

Please note: Vessels are not permitted to approach within 100m of a dolphin or 200m of a whale in Victorian state waters; 50m of a dolphin and 100m of a whale in Commonwealth waters.

See attached datasheet for example of data requested:

File Size: 10 kb
File Type: xlsx

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