18 Aug 2010

Volunteers in Fiji to undergo training on humpback whale identification

10:12 am on 18 August 2010

Research volunteers in Fiji are undergoing two days of training in Suva, to learn how to identify humpback whales and document their findings for a survey on migration patterns.

The three-year project begins at the end of the month, involving recording sightings of the whales, and collecting photographs and sound recordings to help establish migration patterns, breeding grounds, and the population structure.

A lead researcher at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Cara Miller, says 16 volunteers will learn how to record data from two land-based sites during the next two days.

"We're training them, giving them some background on whale and dolphin conservation and research in Fiji and also in the wider Pacific. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme is helping us run the lead-up workshop, so they'll be giving some background and also teaching people actually how to do the research and the data collection."

Dr Miller says after three years, it's hoped Fiji's Fisheries Department can continue the work, with the long-term aim of increasing the population of humpback whales in Fiji waters.