New tracker to help whales

Albany Extra - - News - Saskia Adysti

A new whale satel­lite track­ing buoy is now sta­tioned in Al­bany to al­low re­spon­ders from the Depart­ment of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions to track and as­sist en­tan­gled whales promptly.

The new satel­lite track­ing buoy will al­low trained res­cuers to track whales in low light con­di­tions and dur­ing se­vere weather when it’s not safe to at­tempt dis­en­tan­gle­ment.

Al­bany-based DBCA for­eign con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Peter Collins said the de­vice would al­low him and other trained re­spon­ders more time to pre­pare for a safe dis­en­tan­gle­ment prop­erly.

“The prob­lem we had be­fore the buoy, while we got close to the whale, we never ac­tu­ally got the rope off it,” he said. “The whale kept mov­ing — and it got to the sit­u­a­tion where we couldn’t fol­low it any fur­ther.

“We ran out of time and we ba­si­cally got to the end where we would have to leave the whale, and we wouldn’t be able to track it again the next day.”

Al­bany’s satel­lite track­ing buoy is one of 10 buoys sta­tioned around the WA coast.

The new de­vice, which was de­vel­oped in WA, will as­sist hump­back and south­ern right whales dur­ing their an­nual mi­gra­tions to WA wa­ters to breed and give birth. Their ac­tiv­ity has often co­in­cided with the growth of coastal de­vel­op­ment, fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and aqua­cul­ture in WA.

DBCA has recorded an in­crease in whale en­tan­gle­ment in­ci­dents in re­cent years. “Re­cent train­ing has up­skilled and in­creased the num­ber of qual­i­fied whale dis­en­tan­gle­ment re­spon­ders in Al­bany, who will have ac­cess to a ded­i­cated satel­lite track­ing buoy for the whale mi­gra­tion sea­son cur­rently un­der way,” a DBCA spokes­woman said.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

DBCA for­eign con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Peter Collins with the new whale satel­lite tracker buoy.

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