By on 9th March 2016

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From Whales To Snow Leopards – Genetic Sampling Two Rare Species
Saving Snow Leopards Report. (July 2014)

Saving Snow Leopards Report
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The use of non-invasive genetic sampling has become particularly appealing to wildlife biologists studying rare and elusive species as they are able to obtain critical data without capturing, handling or even observing an animal. Using hair, faeces or skin samples and the DNA that can easily be extracted from them, this method has the power to assess genetic diversity, population structure and social structure, estimate abundance, track an animal’s movement, identify where populations are mixing, determine sex and today we are very close to being able to estimate age. And these are not the limit of the applications! Given the endless utility of noninvasive genetic sampling, I jumped at the opportunity to study these methods through a PhD with the Australian Antarctic Division, using the humpback whale as my model species; a highly mobile, migratory animal that is largely inaccessible, is wide-ranging and their populations are not easily distinguishable.

Whales Wails To Guide Canberra Pair On Southern Ocean Voyage
The Canberra Times. (January 2015)

Whales Wails Article
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The latest international voyage to learn about the planet’s biggest mammals departed from New Zealand this week with a distinct Canberra flavour on board. The 21 scientists tracking the travels and feeding habits of humpback and blue whales across the Southern Ocean for the next six weeks included Mike Double and his Australian Antarctic Division colleague Nat Schmitt.High-tech sonobuoys deployed from the New Zealand research ship will help the diverse team track the whales through their low-frequency songs.

A Voyage To Save A Species:
ANU Reporter (Winter 2015)

Voyage To Save A Species
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Deep beneath the freezing Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean, the world’s largest mammal glides gracefully through the lightless ocean depths. Her song can be heard up to 1,000 miles away. She is one of the world’s most majestic creatures, enormous and mysterious and one that humans took to the brink of extinction. As the largest creature to have ever lived on Earth, blue whales have brought wonder to humans for centuries. But industrial whaling killed nearly 1.3 million blue, fin and humpback (large ballen) whales during the twentieth century. In 1964, with several species close to extinction, the International Whaling Commission banned their exploitation.

Endangered NZ Sea Lion Pup Count Worryingly Low
New Zealand Herald. (March 2014)

NZ Seal Count
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The Green Party has called for a moratorium on the use of trawl nets around the Auckland Islands, following the Government’s announcement this morning of a new threat management plan for the endangered New Zealand sea lion. Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s order to fast-track the plan was prompted by a worryingly low pup count at the Auckland Islands, their biggest breeding ground. New numbers show that 1575 pups were counted on the subantarctic Auckland Islands this year – down 18 per cent on last year.Dr Smith, who is on board the HMNZS Wellington visiting the Auckland Islands, today described the low count as “cause for concern”. It is the third lowest since monitoring began in the mid-1990s and shows an on-going trend of decline over the last decade of the world’s rarest sea lion, and New Zealand’s only endemic seal.

Australia Wins Whaling Case Against Japan In The Hague
News.Com.Au. (April 2014)

Australia Wins Whaling Case
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AUSTRALIA has won an international lawsuit against Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean, but Tokyo appears set to continue with its hunt in the North Pacific.The International Court of Justice has backed Australia’s landmark case and demanded Japan stop its whaling program in the Antarctic “with immediate effect”. But the country’s hunt in the North Pacific wasn’t part of the case, meaning it will be allowed to continue. And Nori Shikata, a spokesman for the Japanese Delegation at The Hague, has suggested it will.

Australia’s Successful Antarctic Blue Whale Voyage
Australian Government. Department Of The Environment. Australian Antarctic Division. (March 2013)

Antarctic Division Blue Whales
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In a world first, acoustic technology has been used to successfully find, track and study the biggest creature on Earth, the Antarctic blue whale. Blue whales are very rarely seen in the Southern Ocean and yet by using this technology scientists on a seven-week voyage to the Southern Ocean were able to collect 57 photo identifications, 23 biopsy samples and attach satellite tags to two of these colossal whales. Environment Minister Tony Burke said the researchers, working from small boats in freezing Antarctic conditions, were entertained and captivated by the remarkable behaviour of the blue whales they encountered.

Shepherd’s Beaked Whale: Extremely Rare Whale Caught for First Time on Film
ABC News & International Business Times. (November 2012)

Sheherd's Beaked Whale
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In a lucky encounter, the Australian Antarctic Division research team spotted a group of extremely rare Shepherd’s beaked whales off the coast of Australia. The rare whales have been caught on film for the first time in history. The team was tracking blue whales off the coast of Victoria last month when they spotted the rare species with dolphin-like beaks. The black and cream-colored whales were first discovered in 1937, but they have only been seen a few times in history.To encounter this group was amazing but the fact that they remained at the surface for so long that we could get many minutes of footage is unique, voyage leader Michael Double told Australian ABC News.