Year 9 Population

The program ‘Population assessments of Burrunan dolphins’ allows students to become a dolphin researcher for the incursion using AMMCF’s current techniques of robust dolphin population modelling.

Two coastal Victorian populations of Burrunan dolphin are known, Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes. Port Phillip Bay has an estimated population size of 80-100 animals, whilst the Gippsland Lakes has resident population of 65 animals and in winter the population doubles with transients entering the Lakes system (Charlton-Robb et al. 2011; Charlton-Robb et al. 2015). Population assessments are crucial for correct management and conservation of not only these populations, but of the entire species.

Students learn how to distinguish individual dolphins based on nicks and notches along the dorsal fin, then using AMMCF’s current photographic catalogue the students identify dolphins across seasonal survey periods. This data is used to assess the population structure. Is the dolphin a  resident or transient? Abiotic/biotic factors and anthropogenic impacts that may influence the population are also examined.



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