Abigail is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Science, and is majoring in Biodiversity Management at Unitec, Auckland. She has a certificate of Animal Management, and was an animal specialist at Crane Lake camp in West Stockbridge Massachussetts, where she was in charge of forty animals of fifteen different species. Abigail’s hard-working, and self-disciplined personality has led her to do amazing work such as being part of a production line testing crystals in Auckland New Zealand, and working at a construction site as an engineer’s project assitant. In 2014, Abigail became a research assistant on the Cook Islands, working for Nan Hauser studying humpbacks during the winter mating season, which is July through October. Abigail was in charge of operating the drone, verbally recording observations, collecting and labeling DNA, driving the boat, filming and photographing whales both above and below the water, as she is a certified open water scuba diver.
Natalie Barefoot is the Executive Director of Cet Law, Inc., a not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership globally with non-profits, business and government to translate sound science and best practices into practical legal solutions that protect whales, dolphins and porpoises, and their habitats (www.cetaceanlaw.org). Natalie has worked with Whale Research since 2014 both on the boat as a Research Assistant and on land providing technical legal and project management support. Prior to Cet Law, Natalie worked as an attorney for the United Nations Environment Programme and Hogan Lovells, LLP. She has also worked in international development at Pact, Inc. in Harare, Zimbabwe and Washington, DC, and is a PADI dive master, a AIDA2 Freediver, a witty conversationalist and a lover of everything ocean.
Alyssa is currently a student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA pursuing a degree in environmental science with a marine ecology emphasis. Alyssa hopes to gain further knowledge and skills to become a successful scientist in the field to protect the ocean, and specifically whales through her studies. Alyssa aspires to share this future research with the public through education, writing, and film. During July through mid October of 2014, Alyssa was a research assistant for the humpback whale field season in Rarotonga. Alyssa was able to gain immense knowledge during the field season, and feels very lucky to be able to continue to be a part of such incredible research. Before going to Rarotonga, Alyssa volunteered with the Soundwatch Program based out of San Juan Island off the Washington state coast May of 2013 and 2014. The program included regulating and educating recreational and whale watching boaters to keep a safe distance from the resident orca populations, as well as other marine wildlife.
“Cultural transmission of humpback whale song and metapopulation structure in the South Pacific Ocean”
I am investigating humpback whale song change and spread within the South Pacific region for my PhD. Song is a male behaviour used in courtship and mating. All males within a population sing the same song and this song changes over time. Populations in the same region have similar songs with the level of similarity dependent on geographic proximity e.g. closer populations have higher song similarity.
I am investigating song similarity over a 10 year period within the South Pacific region focusing on the populations of east Australia, New Caledonia, Tonga, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. The aim of this research is to use changes in the songs to determine a relative estimate of the amount of contact or male dispersal between populations in the region.
This research is undertaken in collaboration with the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. It is funded by Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Inc., Winifred Violet Scott Estate, Australian Department of the Environment and Water Resources and the Tangalooma Marine Education and Research Foundation.
Associate Professor Peter Harrison is the Director of the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre. Dr Harrison is also the Director of Marine Studies in the School of Environmental Science and Management at Southern Cross University, and Director of SCU Research and Postgraduate Studies at the National Marine Science Centre. Peter has 25 years experience with marine science research, teaching, postgraduate supervision and consultancy work. Peter was a founding member of the postgraduate research team at James Cook University who discovered the mass coral spawning phenomenon on the Great Barrier Reef in 1981, and was a joint recipient of the 1992 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research for this discovery, and subsequent research on this phenomenon. He was also awarded the prize for best performance in Honours at JCU in 1980, and a Southern Cross University Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000.
Peter is interested in all aspects of marine science and its application to marine conservation and management, and has successfully supervised 19 Postgraduate and Honours students (with 18 current Postgraduates and 1 Honours student) and 68 Third Year Integrated Project students on marine topics ranging from whale ecology and conservation, coastal wetland ecology, to coral reef ecology and management. His major research topics and interests include: coral reef ecology and conservation, reef coral reproductive biology and ecology, the effects of pollutants and other stressors on corals and marine communities, subtropical and tropical marine community monitoring, dispersal and biogeography of marine organisms and implications for global networks of marine protected areas, and whale and dolphin ecology and conservation.
Much of Peter’s research has focused on the Great Barrier Reef and subtropical reefs in eastern Australia, with additional research in Japan, Micronesia, French Polynesia, the Arabian Gulf and the Caribbean regions. In 1995, he was the Project Leader for a United Nations funded mission to assess the impacts of the Gulf War on the coral reef systems of Kuwait. Peter has published more than 40 papers in refereed journals, conference proceedings, books and invited review chapters, and many other major reports, and has been awarded more than $1.8 million in research grants and consultancy funds. He has also participated in many international and national marine science conferences and workshops, 15 television documentaries and numerous other media interviews, and his photographs have been widely published in international and Australian textbooks, popular books, poster series, magazine articles and newspapers.
Dr. Michael Poole is the Director of The Marine Mammal Research Program at the Island Research Center & Environmental Observatory (CRIOBE, a biological research station of the University of Perpignan, France) in Moorea, French Polynesia. He is a charter member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and a member of the American Society of Mammalogists. For fifteen years, most of Michael’s research has been focused on spinner dolphin’s native to French Polynesia, but he has studied humpback whales, rough-toothed dolphins, and several other species on eight different islands. Michael has provided reports on his research, to the Unites Nations Cetacean Specialist Group of South Pacific Regional Environmental Program. Dr. Poole’s most profound success came about in May 2002, when after ten years, French Polynesia’s government accepted his long-standing proposition, and draft legislation to create a whale and dolphin sanctuary, within all of the territory’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which is an area half the size of the USA.
Mike is a senior international Relations Officer with the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and a Board member of the Marine Conservation Action Fund. He has an M.Sc. in Oceanography from Southampton University, and is the Scientific Advisor to New Zealand’s Commissioner of the International Whaling Commission. Before joining DOC, Mike was a self-employed longline fisherman for eight years in the Hauraki Gulf by Auckland. He has published many articles on the interactions between marine mammals and fisheries in New Zealand, and has provided policy advice on conservation and protection of endemic New Zealand marine mammals to the Ministers of Conservation, since 1987. He was mainly responsible for establishing the Conservation Services Levies program in New Zealand, through which fisherman pay the costs of research and projects, to avoid, and reduce the negative impacts of commercial fishing on marine protected species. As well as leading a humpback whale research program in Tonga, Mike coordinates the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium activities, which brings together biologists studying whales in eastern Australia, New Caledonia, Tonga, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Chile and Columbia. He has also assisted the governments of the Cook Islands and Samoa with drafting the legislation that establishes whale sanctuaries in their waters, and attended the 2001 Regional Forum to develop a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.
Claire is an honorary research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences in Auckland University, Laboratory of Ecology and Evolution, where she studies the genetic structure of the humpback whales in New Caledonia. Claire has lived in the south pacific since 1983, and has been a marine biologist at IRD (Institut pour la Recherche et le Développement) since 1989. She has been involved in programs in which she studied the benthic ecosystem of coral areas in Noumea. Claire is the founder and scientific advisor of Opération Cétacés, an NGO created in 1994, and she has created a research program on marine mammals in New Caledonia. Every year she manages a three month field program that consists of four or five field assistants. Claire has represented New Caldonia at the IWC in 2000, and at the SPREP meeting in Apia in 2001. She has also done marine mammal research in Hawaii in 1996, and Canada in 1993. Because Claire is so passionate and dedicated, she creates projects to educate children and whale watchers about the conservation of marine mammals, and has written a book on the humpback whales in New Caledonia.
Michael Noad originally did veterinary science at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1990. He worked mainly as a small animal vet in the Gold Coast hinterland for 15 months before travelling across Australia, southeast and southern Asia, and Europe to arrive in the UK in 1993. In the UK he worked again as a small animal vet and travelled through Europe and North Africa before returning to Australia in late 1994. In 1995 he started a PhD on the songs of humpback whales at the University of Sydney, supervised by Dr Douglas Cato and Prof Michael Bryden. After graduating in 2002 he held a post-doctoral position in the School of Life Sciences (now School of Biological Science) at UQ until taking up a position as lecturer in veterinary anatomy in the School of Veterinary Science in late 2003. He became a senior lecturer in 2008.
Mike’s main research interest is the use and perception of sound by humpback whales. This includes the use, structure and evolution of the whales’ songs and social sounds, song as a culturally transmitted trait, and the short and long-term effects of underwater noise on whales. His other main research area is the population ecology of the east Australian population of humpback whales. While he is also interested in marine mammal anatomy, he rarely has time to do anything about it.
Mike is a member and executive office of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, a member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and an associate member of the Acoustical Society of America.
David is an Adjunct Associate Professor, at Southern Cross University, and is attached ti the Southern Cross Center for Whale Research. Before establishing the Center, David worked for more than 20 years for many different nature conservation agencies, including Queensland Marine Parks on the Great Barrier Reef, and Nre South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, where he was the Senior Manager. David has been conducting research on whales and dolphins since the 1980’s, and his research has taken him throughout Australia, and to a range of countries in the South Pacific, including Tonga, and Samoa. His research has also taken him to Hawaii, America, North USA, Canada, and Antarctica . David is currently co-ordinating several projects, including monitoring the recovery of the eastern Australian humpback whale population, at Cape Byron. In 2001, David co-ordinated the very first whale and dolphin study of its kind to be undertaken in Samoa, with extensive involvement from local government agencies, and non-government organizations.