The Two Bays Whale Project again proved that a citizen science approach to data collection that includes the use of social media, a sightings hotline, and scientific expertise is a useful and reliable means of monitoring whale presence and movements. This was of particular importance during the COVID 19 restrictions period which was effectively the entire season.
Without the citizen science component, the project would not have functioned in any meaningful way.
The relative success of the 2020 season can be attributed to an excellent collaboration between the Dolphin Research Institute and Wildlife Coast Cruises as well as a growing network of enthusiastic supporters. Broader collaborations with State agencies and domestic organisations were also greatly beneficial to data collection and validation of events. This overall success has ensured the continuation of the project into 2021.
The plan for season 2021 will be dependent on the level of restrictions applied in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of restrictions, the project will continue to expand networks and improve methods – this will increase the contribution of the project to the overall aim of improving the understanding and management of whales in the Two Bays region and Victorian coastal waters.
The full report can be downloaded HERE.