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Collection of baseline data on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) health and causes of mortality for long-term monitoring in Western Australia

Holyoake, C., Stephens, N., Coughran, D., Bejder, L. and Warren, K. (2011) Collection of baseline data on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) health and causes of mortality for long-term monitoring in Western Australia. In: 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Marine Science Association, 3 - 7 July, Fremantle, Western Australia.

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    Abstract

    In 2009, an unprecedented number of humpback whales (Megaptera novaenangliae) (n=46) were found dead or dying on WA beaches. This compares to an average of less than five humpback whales each year in the preceding two decades. Speculation on causes of increased marine mammal mortalities usually focuses on starvation, disease or anthropogenic impacts, or some synergistic combination of these. The current situation is that very little is known about the health of the WA humpbacks in terms of their nutritional status, disease or level of adverse human interactions. We propose to aid in the investigation into increased mortalities by conducting opportunistic post-mortem examinations over a five year period. The project aims to:

    • identify and characterise factors associated with humpback whale strandings and;
    • determine baseline and epidemiological information on disease levels and the nutritional status of stranded humpback whales.

    The data and archived tissues collected will provide an invaluable baseline, thus allowing for the early detection of adverse impacts from natural and anthropogenic pressures and retrospective assessment for the incidence of currently unidentified or poorly-described pathogens.

    Publication Type: Conference Item
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
    School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
    Conference Website: https://www.amsa.asn.au/conference/amsa2011_freman...
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/6689
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