By Dr Cara Miller
In the 1st edition of ‘A Mariners Guide to Fiji Shores and Marinas‘ a citizen science section on collecting cetacean (whale and dolphin) sightings was included. The reason I was interested in engaging the yachting community moving through Fijian waters was that at present we only have a limited amount of information on the key breeding, migration and foraging areas for key whale and dolphin species within Fiji, and in addition the Fiji government is in the processing of developing a national cetacean management plan.
I wasn’t sure how many responses I would get … and so was very pleasantly surprised to receive more than 30 reports, images and communications! Records included sightings of humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, and short-finned pilot whales with these records coming from many different parts of the country including Momi Bay, Lau group, Yasawa group, Tavua, and Rakiraki.
Given the positive response – and the value of collecting such data – I am very interested in continuing this initiative in the future. To assist in this effort I will be updating the datasheets and I also welcome suggestions for additional information that would assist in reporting.
Want to get involved in 2014?
In addition, I would like to put a call out to see if there might be any boats travelling through Fiji next humpback whale season (June through October 2014) that might be interested to assist me in collecting humpback whale song recordings. Assistance on this project would involve having my hydrophone onboard (for perhaps a few weeks at minimum) and lowering it into the water periodically to make recordings. It is a very simple and easy data collection process and I will be sure to provide a brief training and research manual to any yachts that may like to participate in this project. If you might be interested please contact me on [email protected]
Thank you again to all of those who sent in your images and reports. Please, please keep sending them … even if they are not recent. I sincerely appreciate your enthusiasm and would like you to know that your information is being used to help to both conserve and manage whales and dolphins in Fiji.
Vinaka vaka levu!