[MARMAM] Cetacean Honours Projects at Curtin Uni, Perth, Australia

C Erbe erbe_c at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 24 20:05:51 PDT 2016


Cetacean Honours Projects Available at

Centre for Marine Science & Technology (CMST)

Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia



We have several one-year Honours projects available on killer whales, southern right whales and pygmy blue whales, commencing mid-year, i.e., July 2016. (Note that enrolment can be delayed until February 2017 if preferred.)


A) Killer Whale Topics:


For several years, CMST has been in the Bremer Canyon, together with Riggs Australia and Naturaliste Charters, photographing killer whales, Australia’s top ocean predator. Some individuals have distinct markings, and we’ve gotten to recognise these individuals over the years. The Honours projects will have access to several seasons of photo-ID pictures (photographs of dorsal fins, eye patches and saddle patches) and help to grow our database of photo-ID shots. We also have a category of photos from each year showing mothers and calves together, which will be helpful for these projects. There is a potential opportunity for additional fieldwork in early 2017, to be confirmed. Based on this database, several Honours projects are available on:


1. Mark-recapture photo-ID, visitation patterns, resightings of the same individuals, estimation of the size of the population of killer whales in the Bremer Canyon for each season of data, and comparison across the years to identify any trends.


2. Demographics and association patterns; determining the numbers of adult males, adult females and/or juveniles, to analyse population demographics, and to identify association patterns.


3. Distribution patterns, establishing a spatio-temporal grid of sightings, and correlation with environmental data such as bathymetry, gradient, sea surface temperature, and chlorophyll-a from satellite remote sensing.


The above projects will be supervised by Christine Erbe, Chandra Salgado Kent and David Antoine.


B) Southern Right Whale and Pygmy Blue Whale Topics:


Iconic cetacean species, such as humpback, blue, and southern right whales are listed internationally as high priority species for conservation due to their vulnerable/endangered status. These whales use southwestern Australia for migrating, resting and/or calving each year. While the region is currently relatively pristine, it is experiencing increasing human pressures associated with a growing population. Over the past eight years, CMST has partnered with Western Whale Research and Dunsborough Coast and Land Care on the Southwestern Ecology Whale Study (http://souwest.org <http://souwest.org/>).  SouWEST endeavours to contribute to securing the long-term future of these whales by improving the scientific foundation for conservation management and species protection in the region. A sub-project of SouWEST focuses on using photos of whales to identify long-term use and spatial extent by individuals in southwest coastal waters. There are two Honours projects available to contribute to this sub-project, which would involve identifying individuals in a large archive of photographs collected since 1994. There is a potential for additional fieldwork in early 2017 to supplement the photo archive.

1. Southern right whale residency and site fidelity in southwestern Australia

2. Pygmy blue whale residency and site fidelity in southwestern Australia

These two projects will be supervised by Chandra Salgado Kent and Chris Burton.


Honours projects at Curtin University run for 11 months full-time, at the end of which a thesis must be submitted for examination. The above projects are not available on a part-time basis.


Honours Dissertations attract tuition fees. We do NOT have tuition fee scholarships for the above projects, hence the applicants must be able to cover their tuition and living costs in Perth. More information on entry requirements and fees is available on the Curtin University website: http://courses.curtin.edu.au/course_overview/undergraduate/science-honours <http://courses.curtin.edu.au/course_overview/undergraduate/science-honours>
If you are interested in any of the above Honours projects, please send a CV to info at cmst.curtin.edu.au <mailto:info at cmst.curtin.edu.au> as soon as possible, but no later than 20 May for a mid-year start, and 20 October for a February 2017 start.




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