What We Do

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Murdoch University has been involved in the study of cetaceans in Western Australia for more than two decades.

The Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) was established in 2006 and has since grown into one of the leading groups for marine mammal research in Australia, and collaborates on projects throughout Australia, the Indo-Pacific and the US.

Since 2006, MUCRU members have published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and attracted significant research, industry and government funding.

Members of MUCRU currently serve on boards and scientific committees and hold scientific advisory roles for the Society of Marine Mammalogy, Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Mission statement
The overall aim of MUCRU is the conservation and management of Western Australian cetaceans. We strive to design and conduct rigorous applied and empirical research that supports industry and government in meeting their environmental, regulatory and statutory responsibilities.

Areas of research

MUCRU has five core research areas:

  • assessments of anthropogenic impacts on cetaceans
  • cetacean population biology and behavioural ecology
  • interactions between cetaceans and their ecosystems
  • marine mammal health
  • development of novel methodological approaches

These research areas reflect the diversity and breadth of experience and expertise held by MUCRU personnel. Above all, MUCRU members seek to conduct research that improves the scientific basis for the conservation of Australian cetaceans and for decision-making by industry, government, and the community.

Significant state, national, and international collaborators & supporters

Australian Marine Mammal Centre, S. Bengtson Nash (Griffith Uni.), L. Brooks (Southern Cross Uni.), R. Connor (Uni. of Mass.-Dartmouth), Dept. of Environment & Conservation (WA), Dept. of Fisheries (WA), Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre (WA), R. Donaldson (Murdoch Uni.), P. Duignan (Uni. of Calgary), Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, Insitu Pacific, J. Higham (Uni. of Otago), Nickol Bay Professional Fishers Association (WA),  D. Johnston (Duke Uni.), M. Krützen (Uni. of Zürich), D. Lusseau (Uni. of Aberdeen), P. Madsen (Uni. of Aarhus), H. Marsh (James Cook Uni.), NOAA (USA), G. Parra (Flinders Uni. of SA), C. Salgado (Curtin Uni.), W. Sherwin (UNSW), Swan River Trust, M. Wahlberg (Uni. of Southern Denmark).

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