Turtles, Dolphins and, wait for it….. Whales
2022 has been a big year for the Australian Research Council funded NT Marine Megafauna Research Project, with the CDU Research team progressing their quest to identify hot spot areas and develop the best science for conservation management.
Sea Darwin is proud to identify as a partner in this project, along with:
- Larrakia Rangers, Gumurr Marthakal Rangers,
- Kakadu National Park and Cobourg Marine Park
- Researchers from CDU, Macquarie, James Cook and Edith Cowan Universities
- Taronga Conservation Society and AIMS
This year we have sponsored two Marine Megafauna Surveys in Fog Bay, where the eagle eyes of the CDU researchers and the Larrakia Rangers on board kept an eye out for 6 different species of dolphin, and two species of whales. Apart from the surveys close to Darwin, the project has had specific focus on the Cobourg Peninsula, The Wessel Islands and Field Island. The following map details all Megafauna sightings, including our NT whales, in 2022. We were chuffed to witness the pink sighting on the map just below the Tiwi Islands - a pod of 5 Snubfin Dolphins having their morning feed.
During one of our Marine Megafauna Survey trips in 2021 we came across “Old Man Turtle”, an older Flatback who was quite unwell and floating aimlessly in his saltwater country. With grit and determination from the Larrakia Sea Rangers and Dr Carol Palmer, he was retrieved from the sea and delivered to the Ark Hospital in Palmerston. After a lengthy stint under the careful care of Dr Stephen Cutter, Old Man was ready for release in April 2022, a date which coincided with our first sponsored survey for 2022
The project is also fortunate to have the support of local Darwin photographer David Hancock, who has been on board to capture Old Man's journey, along with the survey work both in and around Darwin and further afield.
After 18 months of research, the following priorities have been identified for further research and on-ground management:
- Plastics / ghost nets / sea level rise / climate change ❖
- Update False Killer Whale status ❖
- Clarify genetic populations in the NT / across northern Australia: Dwarf Spinner dolphins, Coastal Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s Whale ❖
- Ongoing engagement and working with Sea Rangers, Traditional Owners in remote locations and develop appropriate and workable on ground management plans for Marine Megafauna.