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Researching the Whales of WA with Jennah Tucker

Marine biologist Jennah Tucker has been in and around water since growing up in Broome, and has long been passionate about whales. "The Humpbacks come up to the Kimberley each winter to breed and calf, so I've always had Humpbacks in my backyard," she says. "And I started working in whale watch tourism while studying Marine Science."

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Humpback Whales from above (drone image taken under research permit) Image: Naturaliste Charters.

Having worked one Bremer Bay season with Naturaliste Charters last year, Jennah is excited to be back and looks forward to bringing her research to her tour guiding. "My area of research is Humpback Whales and my thesis is on aerial survey methods for estimating the abundance of Humpback Whales in Exmouth Gulf. We're trying to figure out when the Humpback population might start to level out, because it has been steadily increasing for a while, and consequently the number of calves born has increased," Jennah explains.

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A Humpback Whale approached the boat. Image: Naturaliste Charters.

"With all the newborn Humpback whale calves around Exmouth, we now have an Orca population moving in for a short time each year to feed on these calves. That really sparked my interest because my work ties into the bigger picture."

When it comes to Killer Whales… killing is part of the big picture, and although seeing a predation can be confronting, Jennah guides guests through the experience with care, remembering what it was like the first time she witnessed a kill.

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Orcas (Killer Whales). Image: Naturaliste Charters.

"It's a lot to take in because it's all around you. The Orcas work together, you see the animal they're taking down, and it's not quick," she says. "But it's part of nature and we are privileged to be able to share that with guests," she says. "This year we're bringing the season forward and starting in December with pelagic exploratory trips. I'm really excited about that because we don't know what we're going to find, though most likely a really interesting mix of various whale species, sunfish and birds. And Naturaliste Charters will be the only ones out there."

Related Experience - Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition (Full Day)

The Bremer Canyon has become one of the most sought-after whale watching expeditions across the globe, with over 100 Killer Whales (Orcas) returning to the submarine canyon each year from December to April; the only place in Australia where you can regularly encounter Killer Whales in the wild.

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Conservation In Action 

  • Participate in citizen science programs to identify individual whales on tour

  • Includes financial contribution or in-kind support to Project ORCA, Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions and Western Whale Research

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