Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Cetacean
Listed migratory - Bonn
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Marine bioregional plan for the Temperate East Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012aa) [Admin Guideline].
 
Marine bioregional plan for the North-west Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012y) [Admin Guideline].
 
Marine bioregional plan for the South-west Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012z) [Admin Guideline].
 
Industry Guidelines on the Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales (Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW), 2007h) [Admin Guideline].
 
Information Sheets Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005e) [Information Sheet].
 
Information Sheet - Harmful marine Debris (Environment Australia, 2003ac) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Blue Whale - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005an) [Internet].
NSW:Blue Whale - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010a) [Internet].
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus (Woinarski, J. & R. Chatto, 2006a) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014tl) [State Action Plan].
VIC:Action Statement Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 No. 242 - Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus (Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (Vic. DSE), 2009) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
WA: Listed as Endangered (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Critically Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Balaenoptera musculus [36]
Family Balaenopteridae:Cetacea:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.yoto98.noaa.gov/books/whales/blue1.gif ;
http://www.utmsi.utexas.edu/staff/fuiman/diving/blue1.jpg

Northern Territory: Listed as Data Deficient under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000.

Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus

Common Name: Blue Whale

The Blue Whale consists of three distinct subspecies:

  • Balaenoptera musculus intermedia: Southern Blue Whale (or True Blue Whale or Antarctic Blue Whale)
  • Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda: Pygmy Blue Whale
  • Balaenoptera musculus musculus: Northern Blue Whale (or Northern Hemisphere Blue Whale).

The taxonomy of the Blue Whale is unclear, however, it is generally accepted that there are two subspecies in the Southern Hemisphere: the Southern Blue Whale and the Pygmy Blue Whale (DEWHA 2008a). In general, the Southern Blue Whale is found south of 60° S and Pygmy Blue Whales are found north of 55° S (DEWHA 2008a). As Southern Blue Whales feed predominantly in polar waters it has been suggested that all Blue Whales sighted in Australian waters are Pygmy Blue Whales (DEH 2005a).

The information in the following profile is relevant to the Blue Whale at the species level (Balaenoptera musculus), unless stated otherwise.

Southern Blue Whales may exceed 33 m in length and 180 t in weight (Yochem & Leatherwood 1985). Pygmy Blue Whales are shorter and grow to 25 m in length (Bannister 2008). They have grey skin with mottled patterns which enables identification of individuals. When submerged, Blue Whales appear to be a luminous pale blue or aqua. They have a pronounced 'splashguard' in front of their blowholes, with a single pronounced longitudinal ridge leading forward on the rostrum. Their blow is tall and powerful (approximately 10 m). They have a long, smooth back with a small, variably-shaped dorsal fin set towards the tail (Jefferson et al. 1993). In the Perth Canyon and the Bonney Upwelling, Blue Whale tail stocks are heavily pockmarked by healed cookie-cutter or lamprey bites, which are presumably inflicted in tropical waters (Thiele 2005).

Maximum lengths for male and female Southern and Pygmy Blue Whales are as follows (Gill & Morrice 2008):

  • Southern Blue Whale: Male, 31 m; Female, 33.6 m
  • Pygmy Blue Whale: Male, 21 m; Female, 24.4 m.

In feeding grounds, Blue Whales typically occur as individuals or in groups of two. Such groups may minimise potential for competition for small scattered prey patches. Larger numbers of whales may feed together where food is abundant, such as in the Southern Ocean. For example, 30 Blue Whales were sighted in one locality in Antarctic waters in February 1996, where a large subsurface krill swarm had been detected (Thiele et al. 2000).

Occasionally 'racing groups' of three whales are seen travelling at high speed, jostling and changing direction frequently. It is presumed that this behaviour is social, and related to courtship (Calambokidis & Steiger 1997). 'Racing groups' have been observed in the Bonney Upwelling off South Australia and Victoria (Gill & Morrice 2003b).

Blue Whales aggregate in feeding areas, and then, presumably, migrate large distances to winter breeding areas, the location of which are currently unknown. Nothing is known of their aggregation patterns or behaviour at the winter breeding grounds. From acoustic data, some Southern Blue Whales are known to remain in Antarctic waters during winter (Sirovic et al. 2004).

Blue Whales make powerful low-frequency calls, with most Pygmy Blue Whale calls off Western Australia having energy in the 10–30 Hz range (McCauley et al. 2001). Calls vary between oceanic regions and between subspecies (Ljungblad et al. 1998; McDonald et al. 2006; Stafford et al. 2004).

The recognised aggregation areas for Blue Whales utilising Australian waters are illustrated in Figure 1 of the Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005–2010 (DEH 2005a). It should be noted that the boundaries presented in this map are indicative: year-to-year movement variability occurs depending on annual conditions (DEH 2005a).

Blue Whale sightings in Australian waters have been widespread, and it is likely that the whales occur right around the continent at various times of the year. However, much of the Australian continental shelf and coastal waters have no particular significance to the whales and are used only for migration and opportunistic feeding. The only known areas of significance to Blue Whales are feeding areas around the southern continental shelf, notably the Perth Canyon, in Western Australia, and the Bonney Upwelling and adjacent upwelling areas of South Australia and Victoria (DEH 2005a).

Areas of Blue Whale aggregation

Table 1 identifies the known feeding areas for Blue Whales in Australian waters and the times of year that whales have been observed in these areas. It is more than likely that Australian records of Blue Whales, which occur predominantly in summer, are of Pygmy Blue Whales (DEH 2005a).

Table 1: known feeding areas for Blue Whales within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (DEH 2005a).

Location Feeding observed
Bonney upwelling, south-east South Australia to western Victorian waters November to April
Duntroon Basin, South Australia November to April
Perth Canyon off Rottnest Island, Western Australia December to April

Areas identified in Table 1 were confirmed during an International Whaling Commission (IWC) survey in late 1995 (Kato et al. 1996). The Bonney Upwelling and Perth Canyon are the best known Blue Whale aggregation areas in Australian waters. Bass Strait and the waters of the eastern Great Australian Bight are also known feeding areas, although perhaps only in certain years (Mustoe 2003 pers. comm.). Other important areas of aggregation include Geographe Bay and Quondong Point, which are used as migratory waypoints, the upwellings around Browse Island, which is likely feeding area during migration to Indonesia, and areas around Cape Naturaliste and Rottnest Island, which are also feeding grounds (DEWHA 2008b).

The Subtropical Front (the confluence of subtropical and subantarctic waters (40–45° S)), not far to the south of Australia, is also likely to be a large-scale feeding area (Mikhalev 2000). Satellite tagging has shown rapid movement from western and eastern Australia to the Subtropical Front. This area of aggregation was targeted by Soviet whalers during the 1960s (Mikhalev 2000). Anecdotal feeding areas include offshore of Eden and Merimbula, NSW (especially during October) (Butt 2001) and the continental shelf from Rottnest Island to Northwest Cape (McCauley 2004). Further feeding grounds may be identified in the future.

Area of occupancy

Sightings of this species are widespread and most oceanic areas of Australia may support actual or potential habitat of the Blue Whale. Thus, the Blue Whale's Australian area of occupancy extends to all Australian oceanic areas. However, there are key feeding areas (the Bonney Upwelling, the Perth Canyon and Cape Naturaliste) that could be considered critical areas for the survival of this species (Burton 2003). The cumulative area of these key sites is approximately 29 300 km².

The Bonney Upwelling feeding area (from Robe, South Australia, to Cape Otway, Victoria, and seawards to just beyond the shelf break) is approximately 20 000 km² in area (Butler et al. 2002). When the occasional feeding ground to the west and south of Kangaroo Island is included, the total area is 26 000 km². These estimates are based on confirmed sighting records collected by the Blue Whale Study (Australocetus Research and Deakin University) since 1998 (however, this does not include waters east of Cape Otway) (Thiele 2005).

The Perth Canyon feeding area is approximately 2300 km² in area. This is based on the distribution of whales during aerial and boat surveys. Photo-identified and satellite-tagged whales have been shown to remain in the area for an average of two to four weeks. However, whales are also likely to feed opportunistically in areas north of the canyon and along the continental shelf break as far north as the Abrohlos Islands (McCauley et al. 2004).

An area defined by southern Cape Naturaliste north to the 33° S has been regularly surveyed for Blue Whales by aerial flights and boat-based operations. This area covers approximately 1000 km² (Burton 2003).

Distribution patterns

Blue Whale aggregation in Australian waters appear to be determined by the location of predictable, productive feeding grounds (e.g. the Bonney Upwelling and Perth Canyon). These locations give the species a discontinuous distribution. However, interchange between the Bonney Upwelling and Perth Canyon has been demonstrated by photo-ID matching (Jenner et al. 2005).

Blue Whales are considered a cosmopolitan species and range from polar to tropical waters. It is not known whether individuals cross the equator, but they are known to regularly migrate between polar, temperate and tropical waters (Mackintosh 1965) and, to some extent, longitudinally around Antarctic (Brown 1962) and Australian waters (Jenner et al. 2005).

Known aggregation (feeding) areas worldwide (excluding Australia) include: Antarctica; Chile; western United States of America/Mexico; eastern tropical Pacific; eastern Canada; Iceland; Greenland; Madagascar; Oman; Sri Lanka; and the southern Indian Ocean (Gill 2004). Possible winter breeding areas for 'Australian' Blue Whales, based on limited sightings data, include the Indonesian archipelago and island groups in the south-west Pacific (Paton & Gibbs 2003).

Worldwide, Blue Whales are rare and there is no reliable estimate of population numbers. The largest surviving population is off the west coast of the United States of America and consists of approximately 2000 whales (Calambokidis & Steiger 1997). Elsewhere, this species occurs in low numbers. Southern Blue Whales are considered among the most endangered of all baleen whale populations (Clapham et al. 1999). In Antarctic waters, an estimated 1700 survive (Branch et al. 2004). There are no confirmed increases in population size globally, and no reliable global population estimates. A modelled estimate of approximately 7% annual increase in Southern Blue Whales was based on very small sample sizes (Branch et al. 2004). Given their small population size, the future of the Blue Whale is insecure. The Scientific Committee of the IWC has been assessing the status of the Blue Whale, however, the findings of their assessment are unknown. The protection of this species varies worldwide, for example, one study has found Blue Whale meat available in Japanese fish markets (Baker 2000).

It is likely that Blue Whales move between Australian waters and the following: Antarctic feeding areas; subantarctic feeding areas (such as the Subtropical Front); and tropical breeding areas (Indonesian waters and possibly south-west Pacific waters).

Blue Whales are powerful migratory travellers that can move rapidly between widely spaced aggregation areas (Mate et al. 1999). Surveys in the Australian region have focused on known aggregation areas, and have not attempted comprehensive coverage of the species' range. Due to this survey focus, current data does not fully represent the Australian status of this species in its entirety.

In the Bonney Upwelling, there have been about 100 aerial surveys since 1998, mainly between Cape Otway, Victoria, and Robe, South Australia. There have also been over 20 boat-based fine scale visual surveys incorporating plankton and oceanographic sampling. These surveys have not been aimed at estimation of Blue Whale abundance, but at examining distribution within the known feeding area, in relation to ecological factors (Gill 2002, 2004; Gill & Morrice 2003b).

In the Perth Canyon, nearly 60 aerial surveys aimed at estimating abundance have been undertaken from 1999 through to 2005, mainly in the peak period between January and March. Since 1999 there has been 11 500 nautical miles (nm) of boat surveys. As in the Bonney Upwelling, the area covered by surveys is minute compared with the range of the species worldwide, and small in relation to the Blue Whale's overall range in Australian waters. However, during the peak period, these surveys may represent a concentration area for the western Australian migrating population (McCauley et al. 2004).

In Geographe Bay, there have been over 300 vessel-based sightings (September–December) since 1994, with over 100 individual Blue Whales identified by photo. Sightings have been predominantly within 10 km of Cape Naturaliste at the southern end of the Bay, with some as far north as Bunbury. Land-based daylight surveys conducted in 2003–04 from Cape Naturaliste found that Blue Whales move predominantly westward, within 2 km from land. No obvious feeding behaviour has been observed (Burton 2003).

Numerous sightings surveys have been conducted in Australian Antarctic waters under the Southern Ocean Cetacean Ecosystem Program, during which Blue Whales have only been sighted occasionally (Thiele et al. 2000).

Reliable estimates of Blue Whale population size in the Australian region are not currently possible. This is because the species range over very large areas that are difficult to survey and because many aggregation areas are still unknown. The amount of time that Blue Whales spend at the surface varies depending on behaviour and local ecology (e.g. whether they are travelling or foraging, and the depth at which prey occurs), which means that modelling population size based on sighted numbers is inaccurate. Southern Blue Whales are considered among the most endangered of all baleen whale populations (Clapham et al. 1999). In Antarctic waters, an estimated 1700 survive (Branch et al. 2004).

Localised population figures

In the Bonney Upwelling, the most Blue Whales spotted in a single aerial survey was 50 (based on 100 aerial surveys in 1998–2005). Although this figure is an underestimate it is a reliable minimum estimate. Of all sightings, about 40 individuals have been photo-identified since 1998, which is a low ID rate and has reduced the ability for resightings. In 2004, there had been one resight between seasons (1998–2004), and several resights within the 2004–05 season (Morrice 2004).

In the Perth Canyon, up to 40 Blue Whales have been sighted in a single aerial survey. Preliminary estimates from aerial survey of numbers in the peak period (January–March in 2000–04) have given a maximum of 43, however, numbers are variable from year to year. During vessel surveys, 211 unique individuals have been photo-identified over six years (2000–05). Of these, one whale was sighted over four separate seasons, one over three seasons and 11 over two seasons (Jenner & Jenner 2004).

There has been at least one resight of a whale between the Perth Canyon (February 2004) and the Bonney Upwelling (April 2005) confirming interchange between these two areas, and raising the question of whether these groups are two distinct 'sub-populations'. Preliminary acoustic data indicates that blue whale calls from both areas are identical (McCauley et al. 2004), which suggests regular interchange.

Relatively high numbers of Blue Whales have been observed annually, since 1994, during October–December surveys in Geographe Bay, a shallow embayment in south-west Western Australia. Surveys conducted in 2003 recorded over 100 sightings (Burton 2003). No feeding behaviour has been observed, however small calves are regularly seen. The majority of whales move slowly into the bay from the north and follow the shallow bathymetry around Cape Naturaliste to the west. It appears to be a transitory corridor and/or migratory resting area (Burton 2003).

Population trends

Branch and colleagues (2004) estimated a catastrophic decline in Southern Blue Whales due to whaling, from 239 000 individuals pre-whaling to 360 individuals by 1973. There are no comparable data for Pygmy Blue Whales, although they were whaled illegally after whaling bans had occurred: an estimated 11 000 catches were undeclared to the IWC (Mikhalev 2000).

The only recent estimate of population increase is 7.3% for Southern Blue Whales (Branch et al. 2004), however, this estimate was based on a very small sample size and did not take into account Pygmy Blue Whale populations.

In the North Pacific, Northern Blue Whale numbers off the coast of California increased dramatically during the 1980s, at a rate exceeding possible natural increase. This was thought to be due to a shift in oceanographic conditions, possibly resulting in greater prey abundance in inshore upwelled waters, with a presumed reduction in prey availability elsewhere (Calambokidis 1995). Whether this pattern was associated with long-tem trends or rare conditions is unknown.

It is unknown whether Blue Whales undergo natural population fluctuations in Australian waters. However, there is some variability between seasons in both the Bonney Upwelling (Gill 2004) and the Perth Canyon (McCauley et al. 2004) feeding areas, but this variability is not by an order of magnitude. There has been an apparent increase in sightings in Geographe Bay over the last 10 years (Burton 2003; Burton & Jenner 2005).

In the Australian context, the two aggregations that inhabit the Perth Canyon and the Bonney Upwelling feeding grounds should be regarded as key groups that should be carefully protected.

Hybridisation between Blue and Fin Whales has been documented in five cases (Bérubé & Aguilar 1998; Cipriano & Palumbi 1999; Spilliaert et al. 1991). The hybrids - three females and two males - were taken in commercial whaling operations in the Northern Hemisphere.

Known feeding areas in Australian waters lie within the Australian Whale Sanctuary. Antarctic feeding waters lie within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The distribution of Blue Whales in Victorian waters overlaps with a number of state marine parks which are principally reserved and managed for their benthic habitat (Thiele 2005).

Blue Whale habitat is variable, as shown by the main Australian feeding areas.

The Bonney Upwelling

Blue Whales aggregate between Cape Otway, Victoria, and Robe, South Australia, in relatively shallow shelf waters enriched by seasonal cold water upwelling driven by south-east winds. Aggregation in the Bonney Upwelling occurs November–May at depths of 10–300 m. There is considerable interannual and seasonal variability in climatic and oceanographic factors that influence upwelling dynamics. Seasonal variability is linked to the timing of south-east winds along this coast (Lewis 1981; Schahinger 1987). Because of the surface swarming habit of the whales' prey, feeding often occurs at or near the surface (Gill & Morrice 2003b).

To the west of Portland, where the upwelling surfaces, the whales often aggregate in a relatively narrow band around a mean depth of 86 m, along or near surface temperature fronts (where temperature may vary by up to 5 °C). This aggregation point has elevated levels of chlorophyll a, which is downstream from upwelling centres and attracts swarms of the krill Nyctiphanes australis. To the east of Portland where there is no surface upwelling, krill and whales are more widely dispersed across the shelf, with Blue Whales occurring at a mean depth of 75 m (Gill 2004).

In December 2003, numbers of Blue Whales were found feeding on abundant krill surface swarms along the 200 m shelf break to the west and south of Kangaroo Island (Morrice et al. 2004). This area is considered to be part of the same large-scale upwelling system (tentatively known as the Great Australian Bight upwelling system) of which the Bonney Upwelling is the most obvious expression (Kampf et al. 2004; McLatchie et al. 2006). Two aerial surveys to the area since then have found no Blue Whales, indicating that it only functions in certain (as yet unknown) conditions (Gill 2005).

The Perth Canyon

Pygmy Blue Whales aggregate on the northern side of the Perth Canyon. Aggregations at the canyon occurs November–May, where the southward flow of the Leeuwin Current causes eddies, downwelling and compensating upwelling as it passes over the steep-sided canyon. The dynamics of this process are also affected by seasonal variability in winds, a process which is poorly understood. This is deepwater habitat and the krill Euphausia recurva occur in balls in colder water below the warm Leeuwin Current in which Blue Whales dive to depths of 200–200 m to feed (McCauley et al. 2004). The distribution of Blue Whales mirrors that of zooplankton patches detected by hydroacoustic surveys. Most zooplankton patches are found to the north of the head of the Canyon (McCauley et al. 2004).

Geographe Bay

Blue Whales are observed primarily in the southern section of the shallow bay adjacent to Cape Naturaliste, which is a resting point during the slow transit west through the bay. Observations frequently occur October–December in southern Geographe Bay where maximum water depth is 35–50 m. The whales are regularly sighted in depths of 10–30 m and as close as 200 m from the Cape. Seasonal oceanographic conditions include injections of warmer water into the Bay from the south flowing Leeuwin Current, while from November to December, stronger southerly winds force a north-flowing, cold water, wind-driven 'Capes Current' which begins outside of the Bay. Little specific habitat data is available for this area (Burton 2003). In addition, Blue Whales sometimes aggregate in Geographe Bay, north of Cape Leeuwin, possibly at a migratory bottleneck (Burton & Jenner 2005).

Antarctic waters

Blue Whales are not uniformly distributed and preferred habitat in this region is not well defined. Sightings are still very rare, however, observations seem to be linked with patchy productive regions near the decaying sea ice edge (the marginal sea ice zone), a zone of krill abundance and high plankton production (Laws 1985; Thiele 2005). In historical times, Blue Whales were often seen within areas of open sea ice (Ross 2000).

Wintering areas

While breeding areas have not yet been identified, it is likely that they occur in tropical areas of high localised biological production, as, unlike Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis), Blue Whales have a thin blubber layer, which implies that they cannot fast during the winter season. This is supported by the occurrence of Blue Whales in tropical upwelling areas in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, such as the Costa Rica Dome (Reilly & Thayer 1990) and the waters west of the Galapagos Islands (Palacios 1999). Possible wintering areas, where some Blue Whale sightings have been reported, include the Indonesian archipelago and the waters adjacent to the Solomon Islands and other island groups of the south-west Pacific (Paton & Gibbs 2003).

Associated species

Blue Whales in the Bonney Upwelling area are sometimes seen in the vicinity of EPBC Act listed Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) and Sei Whales (Balaenoptera borealis), though these may be competitors, rather than associates. These species are listed as Vulnerable, Cetacean and Migratory (under the Bonn Convention).

Blue Whale sexual maturity is reached at 7–10 years of age. Life expectancy is unknown but may be similar to that of Fin Whales, which are shown, by earplug lamination sampling, to live to nearly 100 years. Rates of natural mortality are unknown but Blue Whales are subject to predation by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) and possibly by a range of shark species, as well as smaller parasites, infection and disease (Thiele 2005).

Reproduction

The mating system of Blue Whales is unknown, although like other baleen whales they may mate with multiple partners. Breeding occurs during winter and early spring. After an 11 month gestation, the 6–7 m calf is born. The calves are weaned in summer feeding grounds at approximately seven months old and 16 m long. Cows are thought to calve every two to three years (Mackintosh 1965; Yochem & Leatherwood 1985). It is unknown whether reproduction of Blue Whales vary between the subspecies.

Conditions in Blue Whale breeding areas are poorly known, but these areas may lie in deep water adjacent to tropical island groups, where advection of water by currents can cause upwelling and heightened food production. For their size, this species has relatively thin blubber and may not allow them to fast for prolonged periods (Thiele 2005). It is not known what potential threats face Blue Whales in their breeding grounds, as these grounds have not yet been identified. As with any species, young calves are the most vulnerable members of the species.

In Antarctic waters, Blue Whales feed on krill Euphausia superba and E. crystallorophias, but are also known to feed on fish and squid (Kawamura 1980c). While peak biomass of krill is in summer, Blue Whales are present throughout the year, as are Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) (Thiele & Gill 1999). Blue Whales are thought to migrate to Antarctic waters in early summer and to leave in autumn (Mackintosh 1965). However, acoustic surveys have shown that some Blue Whales are present during winter, indicating that not all whales migrate annually.

In the Bonney Upwelling, the major prey of Blue Whales is the krill Nyctiphanes australis (Gill & Morrice 2003b). This krill species occurs around south-east Australia from Kangaroo Island to Sydney via Tasmania (Blackburn 1980), indicating that the potential feeding range may be greater than is currently known. Relative abundance of N. australis appears to be linked to the timing of the Bonney Upwelling, which is active between November and May (Gill 2004). Other crustacean species have been identified in plankton samples and it may be that Blue Whales feed opportunistically on more than one species in this region. Blue Whales almost certainly consume quantities of copepods (crustacean) and possibly salps (free-swimming organisms) as bycatch when feeding on other target species (Morrice 2004).

In the Perth Canyon, the main prey is Euphausia recurva, the dominant euphausiid of Western Australian slope waters between latitudes 25° S and 35° S (between Shark Bay and Albany). This species of krill is found during daylight hours at depths of 200–500 m, vertically migrating to surface waters at night (McCauley et al. 2004).

Feeding behaviour

In the Bonney Upwelling, Blue Whales frequently lunge feed at or near the surface; but at other times, they may also dive to varying depths to feed (Gill 2004; Gill & Morrice 2003b). In the Perth Canyon, Blue Whales regularly dive to 200–500 m to feed (McCauley et al. 2004). Surface feeding could make the whales vulnerable to entanglement in craypot lines, which are abundant in these waters. Blue Whales show a strong startle response when making contact with a potline (Gales et al. 2005).

A strong focus on surface feeding could make Blue Whales vulnerable to ship strike, as a shipping route runs through the Bonney Upwelling. Feeding Blue Whales often appear oblivious to nearby vessels (Thiele 2005).

In recent years, seismic surveys have occurred in areas of krill abundance, where Blue Whales feed. Acoustic pollution (from activities such as commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity) has been identified as an activity which has the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Blue Whales. Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (DEH 2005a).

Bonney Upwelling

In the Bonney Upwelling, the earliest sighting has been 8 November (in 2004), however, this was the first day of surveys for the season. The latest that Blue Whales have been acoustically detected was 29 May (in 2001). Non-systematic surveys conducted between June and October have found no whales, nor have any been reported from other sources (Thiele 2005).

Vessel surveys have shown that when foraging, Blue Whales adopt a meandering pattern of movement, interspersed with feeding bouts. Whales have also been sighted moving rapidly, apparently between feeding localities. Satellite tagging in April 2005 has shown that Blue Whales alternate between localised foraging and rapid movement to other foraging areas on the shelf. Also, one whale left the Bonney Upwelling and headed south to the northern edge of the Subtropical Front, where it showed possible foraging movement (Thiele 2005).

Perth Canyon

In the Perth Canyon, the earliest sighting for any season was 1 November (in 2000), and the latest was 7 May (in 2003). Whales are most frequently sighted on the northern or southern sides of the Canyon, rather than over the centre of the Canyon. Limited satellite tagging data has shown that Blue Whales show probable foraging patterns not only over the Canyon, but over the upper shelf slope to its north and south as well. During January 2002, a Blue Whale tagged in Geographe Bay left coastal waters and headed east-south-east to the Subtropical Front south of Esperance, where it showed a possible foraging pattern. This and the similar movement of a tagged whale from the Bonney Upwelling during April 2005 indicates that alternation between near-shore and offshore feeding areas may be common. This movement to the Subtropical Front is also supported by Soviet whaling data, which shows that many Blue Whales were killed during the 1960s along the Subtropical Front (Mikhalev 2000).

Blue Whales are the most easily detected and identified of all cetaceans. From the air they often appear a striking pale blue or aqua. This, and their great size, make it difficult to confuse them with other species. From a vessel, their size and shape, colouration and strength of blow make them relatively easy to identify, although they may be confused with other species at a distance. It is very difficult to distinguish between Southern Blue Whales and Pygmy Blue Whales (Thiele 2005), however, the Pygmy Blue Whale has a shorter tail, and hence a proportionally longer body.

Whale surveys need to be designed taking into account several important factors including season, weather (e.g. sea state and light conditions), area to be covered (large or small), aim of surveys (abundance estimation and ecological studies), the activities of the whales themselves (e.g. travelling, resting, surface and deep feeding), funding availability, and the type of platform (ie. land, boat or air) used. Satellite tagging is the most cost effective and practical method for determining species distribution and movement patterns (Thiele 2005).

Bonney Upwelling

Aerial surveys have been conducted in all months of the year except September, but Blue Whales have only been sighted during November to May. Surveys are flown during the middle of the day (i.e. 0900–1500) in order to utilise light penetration, and in sea conditions of Beaufort 4 or less. Survey transects lie perpendicular to the coast and bathymetry, and are spaced 6 nm apart to maximise detection of whales. Surveys typically cover 600–1000 nm. Surveys are conducted in 'closing mode', in which the aircraft breaks from the trackline to investigate species' identity, behaviour and presence of prey and other fauna. GPS records trackline and sightings waypoints. When possible, survey data are later correlated with remote sensing imagery to interpret patterns of distribution (Thiele 2005).

Fine-scale vessel line transect surveys use parallel cross-shelf transects 3 nm apart, with oceanographic sampling stations positioned along each transect at approximately 3 nm intervals. Using a dedicated recorder and two observers, cetacean and other marine wildlife observations are GPS recorded. Acoustic backscatter is sampled almost continuously using a Simrad ES60 Echosounder with a 120 kHz transducer. Sea temperature, conductivity and depth are constantly sampled at oceanographic stations. Plankton and Blue Whale faecal samples and photo-ID are collected opportunistically. Remote sensing images are downloaded for each survey day when available (Thiele 2005).

Perth Canyon

Aerial surveys have been conducted in all months of the year, with Blue Whales sighted only during November to May. Survey transects lie in a saw-tooth pattern generally perpendicular to the coast, between Mandurah in the south and Lancelin in the north, with one-third of transects passing over the Canyon. Surveys are flown from 0900–1500 in order to utilise light penetration, and in sea conditions of Beaufort 4 or less. Surveys are conducted in 'passing mode', recording angle and distance of sighting from the trackline. GPS records trackline and sightings waypoints (Thiele 2005).

Small vessel surveys focus on the eastern end of the Canyon during January–May each year, in order to maximise contact with Blue Whales. Data collected includes photo-ID, behaviour, faecal samples, satellite tag tracks, GPS follows, CTD casts, acoustic detections and echo sounder profiles. These are correlated with SST imagery and climatic data when available (Thiele 2005).

Identified threats outlined in the Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005–2010 (DEH 2005a) are as follows:

The resumption of commercial whaling and/or the expansion of scientific whaling

The impacts of commercial hunting on Blue Whales have been well documented. While currently banned under the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, the potential for commercial whaling to recommence exists, and pressure to resume whaling may increase as Blue Whale populations recover.

An additional area of concern is the potential expansion of indirect commercial whaling as a subsidiary of scientific whaling. The IWC Convention allows member states to issue special permits to kill whales for research purposes and then process these animals for sale. Since 1986, Japan and Iceland have issued special permits for several whale species as part of their scientific whaling research programs. The recent expansion of these programs in the Northern Hemisphere involve the killing of various great whales including Minke, Bryde's, Fin, Sperm and Sei Whales. In addition, since the implementation of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in 1994, Japan has continued to harvest Minke Whales in this area under special permits. While not likely in the near future for Blue Whales, there is no guarantee the species will not be included in future research programs.

Habitat degradation

Given the limited knowledge about the use of habitat by Blue Whales, it is difficult to determine the extent of the threat of habitat degradation to these species.

A range of anthropogenic activities have the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Blue Whales. These activities may degrade habitat by operating at times that coincide with the presence of whales, or they may occur when whales are absent, but degrade habitat suitability on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. These activities may include:

  • acoustic pollution (e.g. commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity)
  • entanglement (e.g. in marine debris, fishing and aquaculture equipment)
  • physical injury and death from ship strike
  • built structures that impact upon habitat availability and/or use (e.g. marinas, wharves, aquaculture installations, mining or drilling infrastructure)
  • changing water quality and pollution (e.g. runoff from land based agriculture, oil spills, outputs from aquaculture)
  • changes to water flow regimes causing extensive sedimentation or erosion or altered currents in near shore habitat (e.g. canals and dredging).

Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (e.g. by reducing recruitment to such an extent that species recovery is impeded). This would be more likely to arise where activities that cause habitat degradation occurred intensively and/or cumulatively, or over a large portion of their range.

Blue Whales frequently skim feed at or near the surface which makes them vulnerable to entanglement and particularly vulnerable to ship strike.

In recent years, seismic surveys have occurred in areas of krill abundance, where Blue Whales have occasionally been seen feeding. Acoustic pollution (from activities such as commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity) has been identified as having the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Blue Whales (Morrice et al. 2004). Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or the exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success, and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (DEH 2005a).

Climate and oceanographic change

Most of the world's leading scientists agree that global warming is occurring. The exact implications of these changes are unknown, but it is predicted that there will be reduced productivity of Southern Ocean ecosystems and unpredictable weather events caused by altered ocean water temperatures, changing ocean currents, rising sea levels and reductions in sea ice.

The potential impacts of climate and oceanographic change on Blue Whales may affect both habitat and food availability:

  • Whale migration, feeding, breeding, and calving site selection may be influenced by factors such as ocean currents and water temperature. Any changes in these factors could affect recovery by rendering currently used habitat areas unsuitable.
  • Changes to climate and oceanographic processes may also lead to decreased productivity and different patterns of prey distribution and availability. Such changes would certainly affect dependent predators such as Blue Whales.

Prey depletion due to over-harvesting

Blue Whales rely on krill as a main food source and require adequate supplies to accumulate energy reserves essential for migration and breeding. Depletion of krill through over-harvesting may be a potential future threat for Australian populations of these species. However, it should be noted that:

  • The krill fishery is managed through the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) on an ecosystem basis which takes into account the needs of predators such as whales.
  • While the fishery is likely to grow, fishing currently occurs well within the current precautionary limits.

Other threats

When migrating through the East Marine Region, the Blue Whale may be affected by human interactions such as harassment, accidental collision, habitat loss or degradation, hunting, swimming programs, strandings and food stock reduction (DEW 2007a). Swimming, snorkelling or diving with whales has the potential to place both people and animals at risk (CRC Reef Research Center 2002 cited in DEW 2007a).

Blue Whales only produce one offspring every two to three years. This low rate of reproduction has implications on the ability of Blue Whale populations to recover. Although low genetic diversity has not been demonstrated, low genetic diversity could reduce the species' ability to cope with rapid environmental change (Bannister 2008).

The Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005-2010 (DEH 2005a) recommends the following recovery actions:

Implement a program to measure population abundance, trends and recovery for Australian populations of Blue Whales.

Included within this activity will be the need to:

  • engage in the IWC Southern Ocean survey process to determine meaningful population estimates for Blue Whales
  • gather information on population structures and limits - e.g. through the use of genetic analysis.

Implement a program to better define the characteristics (spatial, temporal, physical) of calving, feeding and migratory areas.

Included within this activity will be the need to:

  • gather information on movements, migrations and feeding grounds - e.g. through the use of satellite tracking, acoustic monitoring and other survey methods
  • determine the values and characteristics of important migratory pathways and aggregation areas (calving, resting and feeding) particularly in areas where human use is likely to impact upon the species.

Prevent commercial whaling and/or the expansion of scientific whaling.

  • Australia should maintain its position on promoting high levels of protection for Blue Whales in all relevant international agreements including the IWC, CITES, CMS, fisheries-related agreements and Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM).
  • Australia should continue to support a ban on direct take of Blue Whales.

Protect habitat important to the survival of the species.

  • Ensure that in areas important to the survival of the species environmental assessment process and research activities are in place to determine the level of impact and threat of human activities, and implement management measures to ensure the ongoing recovery of Blue Whales. This should include, but not be limited to, the following actions:

    • Assess and manage acoustic disturbance-including the development and application of administrative guidelines under the EPBC Act such as the Guidelines on the application of the EPBC Act to interactions between offshore Seismic operations and larger cetaceans (DEW 2007h).
    • Encourage best practice approaches that will reduce the likelihood of Blue Whales being entangled in marine debris, fishing and aquaculture equipment. If entanglements occur, manage the impact of individual entanglements where possible through the application of national standards for disentangling large cetaceans.
    • Ensure that habitat requirements of Blue Whales are considered in the establishment and management of marine conservation areas and reserves.
    • Manage the potential impacts of tourism (e.g. through the application of consistent Commonwealth and State tourism and whale watching regulations).
    • Assess and manage physical disturbance and development activities (such as ship-strike, aquaculture, pollution, recreational boating and exploration and extraction industries)-including the application of environmental impact assessment and approvals and the development of industry guidelines and State/Commonwealth government regulations.

  • Implement education programs to inform marine users (e.g. whale watchers, fishermen and shipping crews using important habitat) about best practice behaviours and regulations when interacting with whales.

Monitor and manage the potential impacts of prey depletion due to over-harvesting.

  • Improve knowledge of Blue Whale feeding ecology and the ecology of prey species in order to determine if or when prey depletion becomes a threat.
  • Australia should support regional ecosystem approaches to krill management through its involvement in CCAMLR and other programs.

Monitor climate and oceanographic change.

  • Develop an understanding of the effects of climate and oceanographic change on Blue Whale populations to determine if species survival and recovery are being, or are likely to be, affected.

Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the EPBC Act, particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. Click here for more information about marine bioregional plans.

The blue whale has been identified as a conservation value in the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa), South-west (DSEWPaC 2012z) and North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) marine regions. See Schedule 2 of the South-west Marine Bioregional Plan (DSEWPaC 2012z) for regional advice. Maps of Biologically Important Areas have been developed for pygmy blue whale in the South-west (DSEWPaC 2012z) and North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) marine regions and may provide additional relevant information. Go to the conservation values atlas to view the location of these Biologically Important Areas. The "species group report card - cetaceans" for the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa), South-west (DSEWPaC 2012z) and North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) marine regions provide additional information.

There are two major studies that are being undertaken in Australian waters:

  • in the Perth Canyon region of Western Australia (McCauley et al. 2004)
  • in the Bonney Upwelling and adjacent waters, South Australia and Victoria (Gill 2002; Gill & Morrice 2003b).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Peppermint Box (Eucalyptus odorata) Grassy Woodland of South Australia (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ado) [Conservation Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Commerical hunting of whales Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Overfishing, competition with fishing operations and overfishing of prey fishing The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Commercial harvest The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Collisions between ships and whales. Marine Mammal Science. 17:35-75. (Laist, D.W., A.R. Knowlton, J.G. Mead, A.S. Collet & M. Podesta, 2001) [Journal].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Excess Energy:Seismic survey activities Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Excess Energy:noise Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Dumping of household and industrial waste The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Ingestion and entanglement with marine debris Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:spillage The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Tourism and Recreation Areas:Habitat modification, fragmentation and/or changed boat traffic caused by the construction and operation of marinas and wharves Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Collisions between ships and whales. Marine Mammal Science. 17:35-75. (Laist, D.W., A.R. Knowlton, J.G. Mead, A.S. Collet & M. Podesta, 2001) [Journal].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Shipping Lanes:Collision with shipping infrastructure Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].

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Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2005a). Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010. [Online]. Department of the Environment and Heritage. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/balaenoptera-sp/index.html.

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Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) (2007h). Industry Guidelines on the Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/seismic.html.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2008a). The South-West Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the South-West Marine Region. [Online]. Canberra: DEWHA. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/south-west-marine-bioregional-plan-bioregional-profile-description-ecosystems-conservation.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2008b). North-West Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the North-West Marine Region. [Online]. Canberra: DEWHA. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/north-west/bioregional-profile.html.

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Gill, P.C. (2004). Ecological linkages within the Bonney Upwelling blue whale feeding area. PhD thesis, Deakin University. Ph.D. Thesis.

Gill, P.C. (2005). Unpublished data held by the author.

Gill, P.C. & M.G. Morrice (2003b). Cetacean observations, blue whale compliance aerial surveys. Santos Ltd seismic survey program, Vic/P51 and P52, November - December 2002.

Gill, P.C. & M.G. Morrice (2008). Blue Whale. In: Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan, eds. The Mammals of Australia - Third Edition. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

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Jenner, C. & M.N. Jenner (2004). Photo-ID resights of blue whales in the Perth Canyon. Unpublished data in possession of authors.

Jenner, C., P. Gill & M. Morrice (2005). Documented movement of a blue whale between the Perth Canyon and the Bonney Upwelling. Unpublished data in possession of authors.

Kampf, J., M. Doubell, D. Griffin, R. Matthews & T.M. Ward (2004). Evidence of a large seasonal coastal upwelling system along the southern shelf of Australia. Geophysical Research Letters. 31:1-4.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Balaenoptera musculus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:29:07 +1000.