Species Action Plan – Conservation
Part A: Action Species Plan
Humpback Whale (Recovery Plan for Australia 2005-2010)
The humpback whale is a moderately large baleen whale (order Cetacea, family Balaenopteridae). The species is found virtually worldwide, but with apparent geographical segregation. Each year Australian humpback whales migrate from Southern Ocean summer feeding grounds to sub-tropical
winter calving grounds. The northern and southern hemisphere populations appear to be distinct given temporal migration separation. Australia has two migratory populations of humpback whales, a west coast and an east coast population (known as Group D and Group E). The majority of humpbacks in Australian waters migrate north to tropical calving grounds from June to August, and south to the Southern Ocean feeding areas from September to November.
The exact timing of the migration period can change from year to year and may be influenced by water-temperature, the extent of sea-ice, predation risk, prey abundance and location of feeding ground.
It is not currently possible to define habitat critical to the survival of humpback whales. The flexibility and adaptability of the species’ habitat requirements are not known, and it is not clear if all the currently used areas are critical to survival or whether the loss of one of these areas could be sustained. The plan therefore focuses on habitat important to the survival of humpback whales.
Anthropogenic Activities, like
• acoustic pollution (e.g. commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey
• entanglement (e.g. in marine debris, fishing and aquaculture equipment);
• physical injury and death from ship strike;
• built structures that impact upon habitat availability and/or use (e.g. marinas, wharves,
aquaculture installations, mining or drilling infrastructure);
• changing water quality and pollution (e.g. runoff from land based agriculture, oil spills,
outputs from aquaculture); and
• changes to water flow regimes causing extensive sedimentation or erosion or altered
currents in near shore habitat (e.g. canals and dredging).
have the potential to degrade habitat important to the species. These activities may degrade habitat by operating at times that coincide with the presence of whales, or they may occur when whales are absent, but degrade habitat suitability on a permanent or semi-permanent
Prey depletion due to over harvesting
Humpback whales rely on krill as the main food source and require adequate supplies to accumulate energy reserves essential for migration and breeding. Depletion of krill through over harvesting may be a potential future threat for Australian populations of humpback whales.
However, it should be noted that:
• the krill fishery is managed through the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) on an ecosystem basis which takes into account the needs of predators such as whales; and
• while the fishery is likely to grow, fishing currently occurs well within the current precautionary limits.
Climate and oceanographic change
Most of the world's leading scientists agree that global warming caused by human activity is occurring. The exact implications of these changes are unknown, but it is predicted that there will be reduced productivity of Southern Ocean ecosystems and unpredictable weather events caused by increasing ocean water temperatures, changing ocean currents, rising sea levels and
reductions in sea ice.
Like other large whales, the humpback was and is a target for the whaling industry. Due to over-hunting, its population fell by an estimated 90% (to about 1500 humpback whales) before a whaling moratorium was introduced in 1966. Stocks of the species have since partially recovered; however, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution also remain concerns. There are at least 80,000 humpback whales worldwide. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, humpbacks are now sought out by whale-watchers, particularly off parts of Australia and the United States.
As already mentioned. Australia has two migratory populations of humpback whales, a west coast and an east coast population. Population levels prior to exploitation are difficult to estimate but it has been suggested that the west coast population was between 16,000-30,000 and the east coast population was approximately 27,000. In 1999, the west coast population was estimated to be between 8,000 and 14,000 individuals with a rate of increase of approximately 10.14% from 1982 to 1994. In 1999, the east coast population was estimated to be 3,160-4,040 individuals with a rate of increase of approximately 10.9% from 1978 to 1999. It is likely that these rates of increase will fall as the populations near maximum abundance.
Organisations and persons, who are involved in evaluating the performance of this plan are the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) with the assistance of relevant scientists, managers and other stakeholders should evaluate the performance of this plan and report the results of their review to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage.
Swift Parrot Recovery Plan
As a forest and woodland dependent bird, the swift parrot is a high profile species associated with forest and woodland conservation in south eastern Australia. It is the only member of the genus Lathamus, and therefore is of high conservation significance.
The swift parrot breeds only in Tasmania and migrates to mainland Australia in autumn. During winter it is semi-nomadic, foraging for lerps and nectar in flowering eucalypts predominantly in Victoria and New South Wales, particularly in box ironbark forests and woodlands. In Tasmania, the breeding range of the swift parrot is largely restricted to the east coast within the range of the Tasmanian blue gum. The breeding season of the swift parrot coincides with the flowering of blue gum and the nectar of this eucalypt is the main source of food for the parrots during breeding.
Woodlands and forests within the parrot’s over-wintering range and its restricted breeding distribution have been fragmented and substantially reduced by land clearance for agriculture and urban and coastal development. Forestry operations and firewood collection have also altered the age structure of forests, resulting in the loss of older trees that provide a major
food resource as well as hollows for nesting. The swift parrot also suffers from high mortality during the breeding season through collisions with man-made structures such as windows, wire mesh fences and vehicles. Habitat loss has also been considerable across the non-breeding range. Box-ironbark forests
and woodlands have been extensively cleared for agriculture. It has been estimated that 85% of the vegetation in the box-ironbark region has been cleared in Victoria and New South Wales (Robinson and Traill 1996). The density of large trees has been greatly reduced in the habitat that remains in Victoria (Soderquist and Rowley 1995). Important vegetation types in Victorian non-breeding habitats are box-ironbark forest (168,200 ha remaining), heathy dry forest (45,100 ha) and a range of low-lying woodlands
(12,500 ha). Of this habitat, only a small amount is suitable for swift parrots at any given time. Flowering of box-ironbark eucalypts is greatly variable from year to year, with a stand of eucalypts rarely producing a large amount of nectar in two successive years. The birds must locate the areas of abundant food within this 225,000 ha area of habitat, which is spread in remnants over a total area of 3 million hectares.
The Swift Parrot is a herbivore and his main food source is during the breeding season is the nectar from the flowers of Tasmanian blue gum.
There have been two surveys of the swift parrot breeding population in Tasmania, one conducted during the 1987/88 breeding season, which located an estimated 1,320 pairs (Brown 1989). Another survey was carried out during the 1995/96 breeding season, which .located an estimated 940 pairs. The aim of these surveys was to attempt to locate and count all breeding birds. In the 1999/2000 breeding season a program to estimate the density of swift parrots was initiated using a fixed-stationary observer technique at 65 permanent plots across the range of grassy blue gum forest in eastern Tasmania. These plots form the basis of a repeatable survey program to monitor swift parrot population trends. There have been eleven winter surveys in the Swift Parrot’s non-breeding range, in 1995 (one) and 1996-2000 (two in each year). The winter surveys comprise weekend counts in May and August, involving over 300 volunteers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The aim of the winter surveys is not to obtain estimates of population size, but to locate and monitor important foraging areas used by swift parrots. The breeding season survey data suggest that the swift parrot population is at best stable at an estimated 1000 breeding pairs but may be continuing to decline because of continued habitat loss.
The management and protection of the habitat of swift parrots will have benefits for the ecological integrity of a range of threatened vegetation communities including the grassy Tasmanian blue gum and grassy/shrubby swamp gum forests of eastern Tasmania, the box-ironbark forests of southeastern Australia, spotted gum forests and coastal swamp mahogany forests in New South Wales. Conservation of swift parrot habitat has benefits for other nationally threatened species including the forty-spotted pardalote Pardalotus quadragintus, regent honeyeater Xanthomyza phrygia, powerful owl Ninox strenua, tuan Phascogale tapoatafa, squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis and a number of other declining forest and woodland bird species in south eastern Australia.
The management and
protection of the habitat of swift parrots will have benefits for the ecological integrity of a range of threatened vegetation communities including the grassy Tasmanian blue gum and grassy/shrubby swamp gum forests of eastern Tasmania, the box-ironbark forests of south-eastern Australia, spotted gum forests and coastal swamp mahogany forests in New South Wales. Conservation of swift parrot habitat has benefits for other nationally threatened species including the forty-spotted pardalote Pardalotus quadragintus, regent honeyeater Xanthomyza phrygia, powerful owl Ninox strenua, tuan Phascogale tapoatafa, squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis and a number of other declining forest and woodland bird species in south eastern Australia.
With especially protecting the Tasmanian Blue gum tree, the Swift Parrots main food source and the woodlands in Victoria the Australian Government tries to potect land and area. We also have to protect the humpback whale's habitat the ocean. In this case, however, we also have to protect the species humpback whale itself. The species action plan for the humpback whales is affected by local,national and by international laws. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is as well protecting the humpback whales as the South Pacific Environment Programme (SREP) The recovery plan of the swift parrot I only affected by Australian, so local law because the swift parrot only excists in Australia and nowhere else in the world. It's listed endangered on the Commonwealth Environment Protection ans Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. As already mentioned the preservation of the swift parrot is only a local issue because that's the only place it is found. The preservation of the humpback whale however is a global issue, which affects a lof of countries. With the Japanese people still whaling it's a heavily discussed issue around the world and often find its way to the media. It's drwan a lot of attention to the population worldwide with pictures of dead whale on the media commonly.
The swift parrot studies were done by the government with support of volunteers. It could easily be that they made some mistakes while counting the parrots, with not having that much experience. Apart from that the study should be quite accuarate with the support of the government. There's been a lot of humpackwhale studies done some smaller ones and some bigger ones. Most of them have quite the same data. Because the humpback whale lives in the ocean there have been plenty of stduies about his habitat. Global Warming, which is a main impact on the world's ocean is a serious issue, which affects people around the whole world. is the number one threat not only to marine life but to all of our ways of life as well
Both the Swift Parrot and the Humpback Whale are an endangered species, which needs to be protected and everyone can do its part to protect them.