HHR  - April-June Newsletter 2019
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Humpbacks & High-Rises

Whale Tails 2019/2

This is our quarterly newsletter bringing you a summary of the urban marine mammal world. Facts, Stories and Events. Join us on the largest mammal migration on earth!
Quarter Summary 
Whale season in full swing! A close breach by this magnificent humpback whale was a great start to the 2019 whale season.
Whale season 2019 in full swing
by Olaf Meynecke

The 2019 whale season is in full swing. The northern migration of our wonderful Humpbacks has started early further south with first sightings near Sydney in March but larger numbers of whales were only seen on the Gold Coast in June. Our first research expedition of the whale season from 14th-16th June allowed us to collect 7 skin samples, detailed whale behaviour data, size assessment and record two sick whales. We have more expeditions coming up in July, August and September. 

We ran a successful beach clean up and ocean awareness event in early June as part of Gold Coast Green Week and World Ocean Day. Many people came to help with the beach clean up, count the rubbish allowing us to send it to the national marine debris database. I can not stress enough how important it is for our community to come together and show that we can make a change.

On the 16th July we organised a "Welcome the Whales" screening and animal conservation discussion. With almost 30 people attending the event at the beautiful Paperbark Cafe at Burleigh Heads it showed how important our work for the community is.

The season already saw two whales caught in shark nets. One whale was caught in the Rainbow Beach shark net on the 21st July and only a few days later a whale was caught in the Main Beach shark net on the Gold Coast. Both nets were released alive but survival remains unknown. Over 70 000 people have signed a petition so far asking to replace the shark nets with other methods of shark bite mitigation. The calls for change are getting louder with every whale that is caught and suffers. 

HHR members were in the News in June talking about the start of the whale season with ABC radio Gold Coast, an article in the Gold Coast Bulletin and SUN and Channel 7 about the whale entanglement. 

I am much excited to announce the first "Whale Festival" on the Gold Coast to be held on the 31st August between 10am and 4pm. We will be hosting this event at Burleigh Heads with the support of Gold Coast City Council. More details can be found in this newsletter and our event page.

I hope you enjoy our April-June Newsletter giving you an insight into the marine mammal world and our activities. 

Please, help to continue making a difference for our whales and oceans by coming to our events, donate and participate. 

Olaf Meynecke
Our beach clean up at Burleigh Heads as part of World Ocean Day and Gold Coast Green Week. Read more about how much rubbish we found below.
World Ocean Day
by Holly Richmond

It was a beautiful sunny morning on the 8th of July, a day to celebrate our oceans. We had 25+ volunteers helping us clean up one of the Gold Coasts local beaches, Burleigh Heads Beach and Justin’s Park. Our dedicated volunteers spent 2-3 hours collecting and counting the rubbish hidden in the sand, washed ashore, in the shrubs and blown out of local bins. We came to an estimate of 30-40kg of marine debris collected by our volunteers! That’s 30-40kg of plastic, glass, rubber and aluminium that most likely would have ended up in our waterways and into the ocean potentially harming marine life. A great job well done by a bunch of supportive members! Once collected, the most common items were counted; Straws: 43 Bottle Tops: 148 Bottles: 26 glass, 11 cans, 5 plastic Cigarette butts: 1000 + The most common marine debris often found along beaches and in parks is single use plastic. Items that are used once or twice for our simple convenience, such as straws or plastic cutlery. We can all make a difference by addressing step 1, reducing our daily single use plastics and replacing them with alternatives such as metal straws, cutlery, bottles, or replacing clingwrap with beeswax wraps or brown paper bags. Step 2, is taking 3 for the sea. Wherever you are, inland or along the beach try to pick up 3 pieces of rubbish and dispose of it responsibly, this will help save all marine life! Step 3, be a voice for our oceans, everyday should be world oceans day. Educate your friends and family and lead by example! You can make a difference! We are extremely proud of everyone’s efforts during the beach clean! We hope to have many more successful beach cleans in the future! Keep in touch to see how you can get involved.
Welcome the whales screening
by Caitlin Adams

The whales were well and truly welcomed at the start of the 2019 season with a successful screening of the documentary Humpback Whales narrated by Ewan McGregor. Twenty-nine whale admirers showed up despite the weather to enjoy the night with a panel discussion by Olaf Meynecke and Naomi Edwards about conservation success. Paperbark Café supplied fantastic food in Burleigh that brought everything together to create a wonderful night. Overall this evening was heaps of fun but also for a good cause, with all funds going to research that works to protect the Humpback Whales as they migrate through the Gold Coast Bay every year.
Our team in good spirit for our first HHR expeditions in 2019. You can join one in July or August but hurry, places are limited.  
HHR Expedition June 2019
By Sarah McCulloch

On the weekend of 14th to 16th June the first HHR Research Expedition was held from Runaway Bay Marina. With 2 crew and 6 volunteers onboard it was an action packed weekend with plenty of humpback whale action. After some short briefings and training of whale behaviours our team was ready to begin a full weekend of research. We experienced quite a few whale encounters both days on the water: we saw interesting resting behaviours performed by immature whales, where an individual would rest on the surface for up to 8 minutes then breach multiple times in a row. We later discovered that this behaviour may have been explained by the whale having a large number of remora fish attached - the sampling of skin from this individual may potentially help us to understand further why this was occurring. We also observed a pair of mature whales travelling together and performing socialising behaviours such as breaching, tail slapping, pec slapping, and belly rolls. The team was able to fly the drone to attempt to collect ‘whale snot’ samples a couple of times on the trip, and also collect multiple samples of fresh whale skin to analyse. All of our volunteers on this research expedition were so friendly and professional that it made the entire weekend one we all thoroughly enjoyed; and not to mention a lot of incredible data was collected along the way!! There are still a few trips available for other budding scientists and volunteers who would like to be involved in this vital research; visit to find out more!
An internship with HHR - whale tails
by Jill Corey

Coming from 15,000km away in Canada I wasn’t quite sure what to except with my two-month internship with Humpbacks and High-rises, but it was nothing short of amazing. I came in the very early stages of the whale season in May and June, so I began my internship doing more office-based research., and later participated in some surveys on the water. I continued working the fluke catalogue databased created by the previous intern, with the help of some volunteers; and I look at the data collected through our surveys on the whale watching boats around the area by more wonderful volunteers! The collection of this data will eventually aid us in better understanding the whales, how they used our shared environment of the bay, and if the same whales are coming back year after year – how cool!

Though my time with HHR was short – I learned SO much, from Olaf, the other volunteers, and the whales themselves! There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back on the Gold Coast soon working with these amazing people- and animals!
Volunteer for HHR
by Holly Richmond

Want to experience breathtaking moments whilst researching and protecting marine mammals!? We call for new volunteers! We at Humpbacks & High-Rises would be honoured to welcome you aboard our research on humpback whales in the Gold Coast bay, Sunshine Coast and Coffs Harbor. We are interested in motivated, passionate and dedicated individuals who are willing to strive for the protection of humpback whales. Join our whale family of scientists, biologists and ocean lovers in gathering behavioural, migration and identification data of marine mammals on the east coast of Australia. One of the oceans largest marine mammals visit our coastlines every year between May to November to breed. We are very fortunate to have an ocean giant so close to our shoreline that we must continue to protect them from increasing human impacts, monitor changes in migration patterns and their ongoing health. We need you, to help broaden our team so we can continue to protect these beautiful creatures. Follow us on Facebook to be notified. Our upcoming training seminar on the Gold Coast will be on the 23rd June. Feel free to send us an email for any enquiries to
Upcoming Events & volunteer opportunities

You can help making a difference and be part of our growing group of whale and dolphin researchers. 
  • Whale Festival on the 31st August at Burleigh Heads with live music, a doco screening, food and lots of fun activities for the whole family. 
  • Be part of our dedicated volunteer team and sign up. Whale season is in full swing with the next training seminar held on the 23rd June. Send us an e-mail to to register. 
  • Want to be part of the core team and get the real deal? Join our dedicated team that runs HHR at our monthly general meetings. Held at the end of each month. Next meeting end of June 2019.
  • Want to be a learning how to collect and analyse whale behaviour and spend every day at sea? We call for interns for the 2019 whale season. 
  • Sign our petition: You can stop whale entanglements by supporting our Stop whale entanglement letter and request alternative methods to be put in place and developed. Do you know a business on the Gold Coast that would like to endorse the open letter? Please, send us an e-mail.
  • Join our 3-day research expeditions on the Gold Coast. Bookings and details here.
HHR relies on the interest, support and good will of people who feel that protecting marine mammals and learning about them is important. We are honest, independent and stand for the well being of our natural wonders and a sustainable whale watching industry. Our ongoing work entirely depends on donation. Please, consider donating for whale research and protection.


You can support whale protection and research in south-east Queensland; a small donation goes a long way.


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Humpbacks & High-Rises Inc · Post Office Mail Box 195 · Gold Coast, Queensland 4222 · Australia

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