HHR  - April-July Newsletter 2017
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Humpbacks & High-Rises

Whale Tails 2017/2

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 
They are back! With lots of mugging and socialising the GC bay is filled with ocean GIANTS.
Whale Season 2017 - moving in
by CEO Olaf Meynecke

Whalecome to the 2017 Whale season. We are in full swing or should I say full breach of the whale season. The HHR team was busy preparing for the season in April and May but we also managed to sneak in a few events. We participated in Gold Coast Green Week and set up a stall in Nerang. We also supported a beach clean up during Ocean Beach on the 5th June organised by Alli our HHR campaigner.  It was another successful clean up event showing how many dedicated people are out there wanting to make a difference.
The first newborn calf of the season was sighted around the 29th June. We expect that calves have already been around for at least two weeks. Newborn so early in the season could be an adaptation to climate impacts.

The first calf stranding of the season happened on the 30th June on South Straddie with a sad ending. The animal was put down. Beside a permit, access to sample the deceased animal was made impossible to university researchers as the carcass was removed immediately after it was put down. While access by varies researchers would be in the best interest of the public to study and better understand  strandings, whales and dolphins are immediately removed on the Gold Coast and only Sea World is given access.

A major dredging project is currently underway on the Gold Coast moving large amounts of sediment closer to shore in the hope to protect the shoreline from erosion and impacts from climate change. This project has serious impacts on whales and dolphins in the vicinity of the operation. Noise and sediment pollution are a threat to marine life. Please, report any sightings of whales near the vessel to us. 
As announced at the start of the season and followed up by print and TV media we are exposing those who are clearly in breach of regulations and are putting themselves and the whales in danger. First images were posted on social media and we will continue to do so in the hope that the exposure will make people check the regulations before they head out to sea. A Gold Coast City Council grant to support educating people in save driving around marine mammals for the Gold Coast was unsuccessful but this wont stop us to make a difference for our marine life on the Gold Coast. Be part of the change and help us. Volunteer or donate.
Estimated migration routes and winter feeding grounds to breeding grounds for East Coast and South Pacific Humpback whales.
The story behind whale migration
by Laura Torre

The migration of our beautiful and majestic humpback whales is now underway. The whales are staggered in a long line all along the East Australian (and West Australian) coastlines, all swimming north. They are migrating from their feeding grounds in the cold and nutrient rich waters in Antarctica, after gorging themselves for months, feeding night and day on swarms of their favorite prey, Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba).
Migratory humpback whales are found in small groups and are organised according to age class and breeding condition at this time. The first animals to arrive in the breeding areas are lactating cows with yearling calves who are in the process of being weaned. Next to arrive are small groups of immature animals, both the juveniles and sub-adults who can be very curious. These animals are well known to make close approaches to vessels and “mug” for the boat. We have been experiencing that quite a lot this season and its always special to see these animals up close.
Mature males and females are next to arrive and they can sometimes form large surface-active groups known as competitive pods. These pods comprise several males and at least one female with the males fighting for the chance to become her mate. Bringing up the rear of the migration are cows in late pregnancy who have stayed on the feeding grounds as long as possible to pack on an especially thick blubber layer.  Some cows can be found in Gold Coast bay with their newborn calves accompanying them as they continue their journey to the warm, sheltered waters to the north.
Cruiseship Terminal Update

You might remember the idea of developing an offshore cruise-ship terminal on the Spit? It is no longer an idea. The first step was approved by the federal government. The environmental assessment we clearly marked as insufficient and HHR also submitted a detailed outline of the concerns in regards to the environmental assessment. Unfortunately, the submission process was simply short cut by the decision of the Department of Environment and all submission made remained unanswered. This process alone is worrying and is not transparent to the public. However, if the terminal is to go ahead it will result in high costs covered by tax payers and impacts on marine mammals.
Hammerhead Shark cruising on the surface in early June in the Gold Coast bay during a whale watch survey.
Hammerhead Sharks

Hammerhead Sharks can be found regularly on the surface at certain times during the whale season. We were lucky to have photographed this subadult on his surface mission during a whale survey at the start of June. It is mostly juveniles that are seen and we still know very little about these amazing and mysterious animals. A new research project is dedicated to find out how they use the Gold Coast bay and south-east Queensland. If you have seen a hammerhead shark, please, send us a picture and/or location, time and date. 
My first whale of the season
by Courtney Dacey

My first whale encounter was most definitely one to remember. It was a reasonably quiet day out on the water, traveling out of the Broadwater for over an hour eagerly searching for that magical blow of water out on the horizon. Until finally the thrilling words we were all desperately waiting to hear  "we've got our first humpback out in the distance, straight ahead folks, it's just gone down for a dive". My heart was beating like a drum and finally after 4 and a half long minutes the humpback propelled its large muscular prehistoric looking body out of the deep blue and into the air. It was in that singular moment that I felt so unbelievably  small, this magical creature looked like something I'd seen in a dinosaur picture book when I was younger and I felt so privileged to be in its presence. This humpback propelled into the brisk air not once but 40 times as though it was a contestant on a show and we were the audience. The encounter lasted 20 minutes but the excitement will remain with me for the rest of my life.
World Ocean Day Clean Up
by Alli Taylor

The 8th of June marks the date of world oceans day every year and it is a day in which I feel it is necessary to give gratitude, and appreciate the beauty of the sea.

The ocean is the lifeblood of this planet and its health is so fundamentally important. It has major influences on our earths climate and without its regulation of weather patterns and provision of more than half of the earths oxygen, the planet would be uninhabitable. So our ocean deserves a little bit of appreciation and it is absolute madness that we are consciously contributing to its pollution!

It is estimated that approximately a garbage truck a minute of plastic is entering the ocean and the devastating impacts of this pollution is being felt globally. Just this year a Cuviers Beaked Whale washed up off the coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach! Leading to malnutrition and death due to starvation. The life of plastic once it enters the ocean is eternal as it simply photodegrades into smaller and smaller microscopic pieces. The awareness surrounding microplastics is increasing significantly and as plastic is being found in samples of fish destined for human consumption and even the common table salt - it is evidently becoming a human health concern.

By reducing your plastic consumption you will be not only helping our marine life but also reducing our dependance on oil extraction which contributes to pollution of water ways, land, and air through carbon emissions (which is also causing ocean acidification). The last two years I have held a beach clean on world oceans day to honour the sea. I could not achieve the scale of action and awareness without the beautiful support of fellow ocean lovers and people around me. A huge thank you Humpbacks and Highrises for aiding in providing a platform. You never know the ripple effects of your actions. My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a magnitude of drops? - David Mitchell
Upcoming Events & volunteer opportunities

Wondering how whales and dolphins are going to handle boat traffic, pollution and climate change and how you can help? Join us as a volunteer and make a difference for our marine life or participate in our new Healthy Whales research expeditions on the Gold Coast. Please, promote this widely.
  • Take part in our whale surveys and register your interest by sending an e-mail to Next training seminar is scheduled for end of July 2017
  • Join us for the Marine Mammal Symposium on the 31st July at MBRS, North Straddie
  • Be part of the the first HHR full social and plastic/meat free BBQ in August 21st. Join our funraiser and bring a friend.
  • 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 July 2017.
  • 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.
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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