October 2014: Final field season complete

Friday 24th October: The final BRAHSS field season at Peregian Beach was a great success.

We collected a large amount of data which we will now begin to analyse.

Many thanks to the record-breaking number of participants in this year's study - a special thank you goes to the volunteers whose efforts were outstanding!

September 2014: Final field season commenced

Monday 29th September: The fourth and final experiment has begun at Peregian Beach, Queensland.

As in 2010 and 2011, we will be working in the waters off Peregian Beach on the east coast of Australia. Logistically this will be the largest field season to date with over 95 staff and volunteers from 14 different countries involved in data collection. Six theodolite stations with 12 teams of observers located at two land-based locations, five small research vessels and 8 MMOs on board the source vessel, will be collecting behavioural observations on southward migrating humpback whales.

As in other years, we will have an array of hydrophones moored in the study site to record the sounds produced by the whales as they migrate through the area, including their song and social sounds. This array also enables us to monitor background noise within the study site and to understand the acoustic environment of the whales which includes sound produced by recreational vessels, shipping traffic passing offshore, as well as naturally occurring ocean sounds produced by breaking waves and other marine animals. (Facebook entry, 15/9/14)

February 2014: Meeting with OGP/JIP

Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th of February: A meeting between the Principal Investigators and OGP/JIP representatives (some via conference call) was held at the Sebel Surry Hills Hotel.

Productive discussions were conducted concerning the current status of the project and the options for this year's experiment which will return to Peregian Beach, QLD.

October 2013: The 2013 field season in Western Australia is complete

The 2013 field season off Dongara, WA, has finished.

Check Facebook for photos and other information.

August 2013: Dates for Experiment 3 announced

The third experiment will be conducted off Dongara, Western Australia from 12 September to 15 October 2013.

Details of the ongoing field season will be provided on Facebook - stay tuned!

June 2013: Professor Cato meets with the JIP

Doug Cato met with the JIP in Washington D.C. for a report on the BRAHSS project.

The JIP announced it was pleased with progress.

December 2012: Doug Cato wins the 2012 Defence Science award

Professor Cato has been recognised for his humpback whale research and been presented with the 2012 Defence Science Award. Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD.

Go to to read the article online, or click here to download a .pdf version.

December 2011: Experiment 2 completed successfully

This year's field season off the east coast of Australia has concluded.

Building on experience gained from Experiment #1 in 2010, data gathering was more streamlined and provided a large amount of data for analysis. We achieved more than our target number of sample observations. This year's experiment used an air gun array of six air guns with four stages of ramp-up and a hard start using the third stage. Planning is now in progress for Experiment #3 which will be off the west coast in September - October 2012.

September 2011: 2011 Field season has begun

This year's field season began on September 5. Logistical preparations, testing of equipment and training were the order of the day in the first busy week. Operational shifts began on Emu Mountain in week 2.

The crux of the experimental season will be to compare last year's single airgun data to that of a four gun array, which will be deployed this season. We will also be augmenting our DTAG data collection by using satellite tags which measure dive profiles and movement for approximately one week. This information will provide evidence that may point to longer term behavioural changes.

June 2011: Professor Cato reports to the JIP at BOEMRE

Doug Cato has returned from a successful trip to the U.S. where he reported on the first year of activities undertaken by BRAHSS. The meeting took place at the BOEMRE offices (with a phone hook-up to some parties) and included representatives from the JIP, BOEMRE, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, IAGC, ExxonMobil and Office of Naval Research.

A planned 50 minute presentation by Doug was extended to two hours as many questions were forthcoming from the attentive and interested audience. Feedback was positive and there was general consensus on how important the BRAHSS project is and that the research was in very good hands.

The Acoustical Society of America also enjoyed a BRAHSS presentation the week before.

May 2011: Cyclops is now VADAR (Visual Detection and Ranging at sea)

From the website

VADAR is a replacement program for Cyclops Tracker. VADAR's appearance is somewhat different to Cyclops but the basic operation is similar. VADAR will be released late 2011.

VADAR (formally known as Cyclops Tracker) is a software system designed to accurately locate and record marine mammals and other object positions from a known location. VADAR is designed to be efficient and easy to use (especially in the field), with a simple graphical user interface (GUI) and quick edit options. Designed to run on a Windows operating system the program accepts data directly from electronic theodolites, compass binoculars, electronic compass, GPS, digital cameras and other devices. Additional data can also be entered using the keyboard. The data is then processed (in real time) and the objects position calculated and plotted to the screen. The system can be used from a land station, vessel or aircraft;and corrections for earth curvature, refraction and tides are applied.

December 2010: From the HARC Field Diary

Field work for HARC 10-11 is officially over and it was an extremely successful first season for the BRAHSS (Behavioural Responses of Australian Humpback whales to Seismic Surveys) project;investigating the effects of seismic airguns on the behaviour of humpback whales during migration.

Over 50 researchers from all over the world including both volunteers and staff lived and worked together at Peregian Beach for six weeks to collect data for the project. Whether it was spotting whale behaviours from Emu Mountain, tagging from research vessels out on the water or recording intriguing whale song from Base Station, the HARC team made a victorious effort in all areas and pulled off a great season of field work.

All involved worked tremendously hard and their valuable contributions, passion and willingness to work on such a large, challenging project is reflected in the quality of data collected and more importantly, in the gracious team atmosphere that was created (and still continues). The data is then processed (in real time) and the objects position calculated and plotted to the screen. The system can be used from a land station, vessel or aircraft;and corrections for earth curvature, refraction and tides are applied.

Everyone's hard work finally paid off on Saturday 23 October;the last day of observations, when we reached an incredible sample size of 55, considering the unusually high number of bad weather days.

The Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory continue to work on collected data for the first year of BRAHSS at the School of Veterinary Science (UQ Gatton campus). Data consolidation and primary analysis will take place over the next nine months and preparations for next year's field season have already begun.

Thanks again to everyone who was involved in HARC 10-11; it wouldn't have been so successful without you.