Humpback Whales - Spread the Story

Eastern Australian Humpback Whales - An online Community Education and Awareness Project

The Oceania Project  was established by Drs Trish and Wally Franklin in 1988 as a not-for-profit research and education organisation dedicated to raising awareness about Cetacea (Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises) and the Ocean Environment through research, information, education and net-working. 

The funds being raised are to implement the above project, which is an extension of the original scientific research on humpback whales conducted by Dr Trish Franklin  and Dr Wally Franklin during the 25 years  between 1989 and 2014.

The research was funded by The Oceania Project at a cost of $6.25 million dollars. The funding was generated in significant part by over 2500 members of the Public particpating in the Annual Whale Research Expeditions in Hervey Bay, Queensland Australia.

The project will contribute to the broader environmental objectives  of The Oceania Project and will provide an effective and informed means for world-wide Community engagement in the care, conservation and protection of the eastern Australian humpback whales and all species of Cetacea.

The research undertaken by Dr Trish Franklin and Dr Wally Franklin  on humpback whale social behaviour, social organisation, population dynamics, abundance and reproduction is the most extensive study of its kind undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere.

Their very large humpback whale database has facilitated collaborative research  on humpback whales with scientists across the Pacific and from Antarctica.

Trish Franklin has a humpback whale fluke catalogue consisting of 3254 individual humpback whales and long-term life histories on over 600 known individual humpback whales ranging from two to twenty-one years. Their work has provided fresh insights into humpback whale behaviour and social organisation.

[Below is the tail-fluke of 'Nala'. She has been observed and photographed in Hervey Bay in 12 of 20 years and in 11 of those years she was accompanied by a new calf]

Eastern Australian humpback whales were taken to the brink of extinction by commercial whaling and it is estimated that only 150 individual whales survived.

During the fifty-years from the early 1960's to the early 1990's recovery was very slow and over the last two decades the population has been increasing rapidly. During the last two decades humpback whale tourism along the eastern coast of Australia, particularly in Hervey Bay, Queensland, has become a multi-million dollar industry with millions of Australian and Overseas visitors watching humpback whales from land-based vantage areas, like Byron Bay; or vessel based whale watch operations available along the eastern coast of Australia.

Sixty-seven east Australian Communities , mainly in NSW, have adopted known individual humpback whales and annually celebrate the return of the migrating humpbacks.

Humpback whales are still at risk from a possible resumption of commercial whaling and also face an increasing range of threats including entanglement, habitat degradation, vessel strikes, and climate change.

There is a very high public demand for scientifically based educational material and information on humpback whales.

The funds being requested will be applied to implement the Humpback Whale Community Awareness and Education Project, progressively over three years
 in three stages:

Stage 1 Objective: To increase Community awareness and knowledge of eastern Australian Humpback whales, to engage the Community in long-term conservation and protection of humpback whales through making available the findings from The Oceania Project's research on Humpback social behaviour and social organisation and other information on the population of eastern Australian Humpback whales.

Stage 1 Activity (year one):
1 - Analyse and review The Oceania Project's three existing websites    

then identify levels, sections, pages and resources to be retained and integrated into the redevelopment of The Oceania Project's  '' website

2 - Develop new levels, sections and page structure to integrate new research findings on Humpback whales into the re-developed website. Prepare website site map and wireframe layout in preparation for website design

3 - Draft website design brief and commission website design template

4 - Review and approve design template, site map and wireframe layout for re-developed website

5 - Identify and archive new content derived from the 26 years of Humpback whale research to be included in the re-developed website: e.g. text, photographic, video and acoustic assets for levels, sections and pages

6 - Prepare an overall website specification document, which will provide a blueprint for implementation of new research material into the re-developed website

Stage 2 Objective: To provide research based knowledge about eastern Australian Humpback whales for School and University Students, presented in a stimulating web environment suited to home & school computers, iPads, other tablets and mobile phones and embedded in original highly visual and stimulating photographic, video and acoustic assets.

Stage 2 Activity (year two)
1 - Format material to be incorporated into the re-developed website for the digital online environment including: text, photographic, video and audio assets

2 - Build, layout and edit new levels, sections and individual pages of the re-developed website.

3 - Review and approve all levels, sections and pages as they are completed

4 - Conduct focus groups using independent reviewers to beta-test the completed pre-live website. Implement any revisions to the website arising from the focus groups and beta-tests

5 - Undertake final review and pre-live approval of re-developed website. Take re-developed website live and simultaneously decommission old websites being integrated into the new re-developed website of The Oceania Project

Stage 3 Objective: To provide a world-class and enduring research based knowledge resource on eastern Australian Humpback whales and other species of Cetacea, that will, via the website, be available to an audience throughout Australia and World-Wide.

The website will not only stimulate interest in Humpback whales but contribute to attracting overseas visitors and overseas students to Australia because of the opportunities available to observe and learn about Humpback whales through established whale watching operations and available high quality University Marine Science courses such as those provided by Southern Cross University.

Stage 3 Activity (year three):
1 - Prepare Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

2 - Undertake revisions, adjustments and / or corrections as required during monitoring phase

3 - Implement twelve-month online promotional, media and marketing program of website as a major educational resource for the Public

4 - Prepare review of performance during the first twelve months of operation of the website

5 - Update The Oceania Project's website listing on Pandora , Australia's web archive at the National Library of Australia, for preservation of the website in perpetuity.

Our Hope for the Project: 
The general public throughout Australia and around the World will have access to a website with up-to-date research information on the social behaviour, social organisation, population dynamics, abundance and reproduction of eastern Australian Humpback whales; presented in a clear, concise and digestible manner and embedded in original & stunning photography, video and acoustic material, which will provide a rich and enduring Educational Resource for people of all ages.

The material will be particularly aimed at school-age children and University students. The original research, from which the levels, sections and pages of the website are derived, will be available for download for those who wish to look in more depth at the research outcomes.

The website will have a lifetime in excess of a quarter of a century, as has the current website of The Oceania Project. However, as the existing website attracted 5000 unique visitors and 250,000 hits per month, the content, appeal and engagement of the redeveloped website will be expected to at least double this rate of public interest attracting 10,000 unique visitors and 500,000 hits per month. A total of 120,000 visitors and 3 million hits per annum over the life of the website.

The website will engage the worldwide public in the long-term conservation and protection of Humpback whales and all other species of Cetacea.

Our gratitude and thanks in advance:

We were blessed with over 2500 members of the worldwide public joining our Annual Whale Research Expeditions in Hervey Bay, which enabled us to undertake the long-term research on the eastern Australian Humpback whales.

We thank in advance all those who will support with a donation the spreading of the Humpback whale stories.

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Wally Franklin
Walliebum QLD

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