Research into the dolphins of Bunbury is the major objective of the South West Marine Research Program (SWMRP).
Founded in 2007 on an initial partnership between the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre and Murdoch University, with support from the South West Development Commission, the SWMRP is now composed of partners from industry, government, research and the community.
The SWMRP initiative strives to assess the long-term viability of bottlenose dolphin population off Bunbury, south-western Australia. The program is providing critical information for assessing the potential impacts of human activity on dolphins and assist industry partners in planning their activities in the marine environment while minimizing their impacts on the local dolphin population.
The SWMRP is providing indirect benefits to the greater south-west, including: the presence of a tertiary research institution (Murdoch University) in the region, a model for other state-wide marine research initiatives, external funding including four Murdoch University PhD scholarships and staff salaries, national and international recognition as a credible source of quality government and non-government information and the showcasing of partners in national and international media outlets.
SWMRP Phase 1 (2007-2010):
Phase 1 of the SWMRP is comprised of three PhD projects that research several diverse aspects of dolphin biology and ecology, and the ecosystem that that supports them. The overall aim is to assess the long-term viability of the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops sp. population in Bunbury, by building an understanding of their biology, abundance, gene flow with other geographic areas and interactions with the environment and food resources.
The three areas of research in Phase 1 are:
- Population abundance and ranging patterns;
- Dolphin Diet and Foraging Ecology;
- Dolphin Conservation Genetics.
SWMRP PHASE 2 (2011-2013):
We are delighted to move into Phase 2 of the SWMRP with the recent confirmation of continued support and commitment from our partners. We are also pleased to welcome Newmont Boddington Gold to Phase 2 of the partnership.
Phase 2 will include two main areas of research:
- Dolphin population monitoring and habitat modelling;
- Dolphin health research via veterinarian and pathological investigations.
The SWMRP will continue to seek mechanisms to further engage the people of Bunbury in understanding the research discoveries and the value of science in the region.
- Kate Sprogis, PhD Candidate: Predictive habitat modelling and population dynamics.
- Dolphin health via veterinarian and pathological investigations.