Rare whale sightings mark Eden as special

Sightings of pygmy killer whales (pictured) off the coast of Eden have been described as the most southerly sightings of the rare species worldwide. Image courtesy of David Donnelly.

Sightings of pygmy killer whales (pictured) off the coast of Eden have been described as the most southerly sightings of the rare species worldwide. Image courtesy of David Donnelly.

The most southerly worldwide sightings of a rare species of whale occurred off the coast of Eden between February 2004 and March 2007, according to an article published in a marine journal last week.

The article describes four sightings of pygmy killer whales near the continental shelf, over the three-year period.

University of Queensland PhD student Kylie Owen, who co-wrote the article for Marine Biodiversity Records with marine researcher David Donnelly, says the sightings show the diversity of marine life off Eden.

“It’s yet another reason why the marine environment off Eden is a pretty special place, and one that deserves more attention,” Ms Owen said.

“The sightings occurred over a number of years, with the first one being a group of 20-30 animals in February 2004.

“The last sighting was on March 18, 2007, with 50-70 animals.

“On two of the four occasions, a second cetacean species was also present.

“They were just surveys that were conducted opportunistically, and it wasn’t until later that we realised how rare it was and that they are the most southerly worldwide sightings.”

All four sightings took place during warmer periods, with water temperatures ranging from 21–25.8°C.

The article states that this showcases the potential for changes in the strength of warm water currents to influence species distribution in our waters.

‘The most southerly sightings of pygmy killer whales’ can be accessed online, by clicking here.

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