Understanding how iconic marine species use nearshore habitats in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve.
The Noosa Biosphere Reserve is home to a variety of iconic marine species including dolphins and sharks as well as an important ‘humpback highway’ during the humpback whale annual migration. The Noosa Biosphere Reserve’s bays and beaches also play host to a suite of anthropogenic impacts in the water, including boating and shark control program gear (nets and drumlines). This research will fill the gap to understand how iconic marine species use the inshore waters of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve and how human activities may impact them.
Iconic marine species targeted for research in this study are whales, dolphins, and sharks, however researchers will also be looking out for rays and turtles they may find along the way.
Researchers will use shore and aerial-based observational surveys (using a theodolite and drone) as well as acoustic receivers deployed in the water to collect behavioural and ecological data on how these species use the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. This information will be combined with environmental data and anthropogenic impacts (such as proximity to shark control program gear) to identify trends and make recommendations for the management of iconic marine species in the Reserve, so we can continue to enjoy the marine life in Noosa.
The intended outcomes of this project are:
- Generate new fine-scale insights into how iconic marine species such as Indo-Pacific bottlenose, Australian humpback and common bottlenose dolphins use aquatic habitats within the NBR.
- Quantify and map the relative biodiversity value of the aquatic habitats of the NBR to iconic marine species, and identify potential hotspots of cumulative anthropogenic impact.
- Improve understanding of the factors underlying human-wildlife interactions with iconic marine species in NBR waters, including the risks to non-target species associated with the shark control program, vessel interactions and underwater noise.
- Develop a data-driven approach to predicting interaction likelihood, such as time periods or environmental factors underlying when dolphins or whales are at greater risk of entanglement in shark control gear.
This project commenced in January 2022 is due for completion in December 2024