HHR  - July-October Newsletter 2018
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Humpbacks & High-Rises

Whale Tails 2018/3

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 
High five for another busy whale season. The Pec slap creates a unique sound under water used to communicate with other whales.
Whale Season Sums up
by CEO Olaf Meynecke

We had a busy time with our whales over the past 3 months since our last quarterly newsletter. False Killer Whales sighted again this year in August - only a week later than last year and southern right whales coming through as well as a breaching Minke whales.

Archie Roach who is a song writer and long standing advocate for indigenous rights congratulated us for our work and we were very happy to share some of our whale knowledge during a whale survey with him. 

A whale calf and mother were found entangled at Kirra shark net on the 10th October. Very few media reports were made about the fact that the whale was caught, injured and its fate unknown. Once again it was a celebration about freeing and rescuing. Then I ask who put the nets there in the first place to harm a protected mammal? Another entangled whale was sighted at Coffs Harbour in early October. The net had all features of a shark net which are set on the NSW coast between September and May each year to kill marine life. We urge everyone to stop the nonsense of shark nets and replace them with modern technology. Sign our petition.  

We had media coverage through an article about balloons polluting our Gold Coast bay in the GC SUN and radio interviews or mention on ABC Gold Coast and a community radio in Melbourne. 

Our AGM will be held on the 6th December and we welcome everyone who has a passion for the ocean to help us make a difference. 

Olaf Meynecke
Flukes are unique in their marking, shape and coloration. Creating fluke matching catalogues is labor intensive and requires the flukes to be cropped, put in the right angle and labeled. 
Whale Fluke Catalogue
by Mila

As an HHR intern, one of the main projects I’m involved in is creating a catalogue of all the humpback flukes photographed off Gold Coast shores from as early as 2004. Humpback flukes show characteristic marks and black or white patterns that are unique for every single individual around the world, and for this reason it’s possible to recognize individuals. Cataloguing the flukes unfortunately cannot be done by computers yet, so a team of brave volunteers is helping me with this project. It requires comparing every fluke to the others that have been collected and cataloguing them by time, date and appropriate fluke scar codes.

Eventually, the whales will be assigned identification numbers and named as well. I have to say that the results are simply amazing! Since we started, a few weeks ago, we already managed to catalogue all the whales spotted from 2004 until 2012. Some whales appear to stay around Gold Coast shores for more than one day, and we found that some have been resighted over a few years. Once the catalogue is completed, we will be able to provide better insights on how the Gold Coast bay is used by humpback whales. We hope that this information will help to develop further steps towards the conservation of these gentle giants
Rubber Jellyfish Premiere
by Olaf 

I was invited to give a talk at the premiere for the doco Rubber Jellyfish. Carly Wilson who is the maker of this mind opening doco gave an inspiring introduction to this topic at the Gold Coast Arts Centre. Marine pollution is a serious issue and linked to various stranding incidents around the world resulting in suffering and death of marine mammals. So it was only logic that I spoke about the research we have done on marine mammal strandings showing that the Gold Coat bay has the highest number of reported strandings anywhere on the east coast of Australia.

During our research in the bay we keep finding and collecting balloons. We have already collected dozens of them from the water and it is extremely disappointing to see that they are being used as party items near the shore or on boats and even worse as floats for fishing lines. I can only encourage everyone to watch Carly's doco to learn about the extend of the balloon problem and what it means to our marine life. Next screening is at Pac Fair or in Brisbane
Holly and Olaf collecting whale skin during a HHR research expedition.
HHR Research Expeditions
by Olaf

Last year we started running research expeditions on the Gold Coast and were able to offer five 3-Day field trips on the Gold Coast with 31 participants in total. It is a fantastic way to bring like minded people together and learn about our marine life in the Gold Coat bay. The trips have been very popular and successful allowing us to collect detailed behaviour data over several hours of observation, getting more than 10 skin samples for DNA analyses and gather size data using our drone as well as collecting mucous samples. 

The last research trip was between the 19th and 21st October with some surprising encounters. We had still high numbers of mother and calf pairs while the number of males has dropped. So the surface activity has calmed down compared to the recent months and we also noted much longer dive times even when young calves were present. 

We will be offering more research expeditions next year and invite everyone to share and participate. We would love to have you onboard and help us make a difference for the Gold Coast and beyond.
Whale Talks

On Saturday the 11th August whale researcher Laura Torre-Williams gave a presentation on Humpback whales in Gold Coast waters. It was a special family presentation of humpback whales life history, migration, what they do in GC waters, newborns and how we can help care for them and the oceans in which they live. Over 20 people turned up to this event and learned all about our beautiful whales. We will be running another set of presentations in late November on the 25th at Burleigh Heads. 
Moreton Bay Research Station Marine Mammal Forum
by Jas

The MBRS marine mammal forum was an incredible experience to learn and meet like-minded people. As a prospective marine biology student, my passion for science was fuelled by the stimulating presentations from the UQ and Griffith University academics. I was also humbled by the cultural significance of the Yura Yalingbila festivities which celebrate the ‘welcoming of the whales’. The event not only recognised the invaluable stewardship of our indigenous custodians for the marine environment surrounding the North Stradbroke and Moreton Bay regions, but brought light to the various studies being completed on marine mammals to complement the efforts of the indigenous rangers. I was ignited by the emerging trends presented and the proposal of future studies, and appreciated the way the day brought together the community to develop understanding and awareness.

Furthermore, I was blessed to work alongside two incredible fellow volunteers at our HHR stall, from whom I learnt even more. Our volunteers are the foundations of this incredible organisation, and our collective passion and enthusiasm creates an atmosphere for change. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so positive and significant in this time of environmental fragility, working amongst a team of dedicated individuals. It is also a reminder to all of our volunteers that our commitment to HHR offers more than the unforgettable experience that comes with whale interaction while on our surveys. Helping out in events such as the MBRS open day can be just as rewarding and educational, and every set of hands counts in growing this beautiful network of research and advocacy. It’s about creating attitudes of awareness and changing habits to make way for a positive future.
Volunteering with HHR - a life changer
by Reggie

I’m a marine biologist. In 2016 my life has changed. I lost a great friend at the age of 26, who was struggling with cancer. I was devastated, because Juliana was a light person with an amazing energy. After that I made a tattoo of a humpback whale, to remind me of that energy and courage that Juliana had. She was also a biologist, she had worked with many animals and humpback whales were one of her great passion. So I decided to turn that emptiness into Juliana's courage. I learned to have strength and faith. She showed me that dreams can come true if we go after them. I then carried with me her joy, her energy, her thirst for life, to travel the world, to realize dreams. 

So I put everything in my suitcase and I set out on the other side of the world. I left everything behind and I went to follow my dream and the promise I made to my friend Juliana, to go to Australia and work with humpback whales. I found Humpback and High Rises on Facebook and I volunteered with them starting last year on October 21, 2017 and with HHR I was able to reach that promise! It was amazing! Besides the homage to my friend, I got to know the fantastic teamwork, to meet wonderful people and together, united for the same reason, we can make a difference. It is a great pleasure to be able to work with HHR, in this way, keeping the flame of my friend Juliana always burning in my heart. Thank you HHR team, for holding all these great moments and experiences!
Upcoming Events & volunteer opportunities

You can help making a difference and be part of our growing group of whale and dolphin researchers. 
  • We have a stall on the 24th November at MBRS on Straddie. Come join us!
  • Donate your fluke images to our catalogue!
  • Movie night and whale talks scheduled for the 27th Nov at Burleigh Heads.
  • Be part of our dedicated volunteer team and sign up for next years whale season. Our first training seminar will be held end of May 2019. 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 25th October at Griffith Uni. Our AGM and award ceremony will be held on the 6th December likely at Burleigh Heads Community Centre. See our FB event page for details
  • 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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