Yalata and Oak Valley members have 'whale of a day'

LESSON: Fredrik Christiansen from Murdoch University gives a demonstration on how to use a drone at the Head of Bight for Whale of a Day.
LESSON: Fredrik Christiansen from Murdoch University gives a demonstration on how to use a drone at the Head of Bight for Whale of a Day.

Students and community members from Yalata and Oak Valley got involved in surveying whales at the Head of Bight with the Whale of a Day on August 24.

Aboriginal people from the two communities have been involved in southern right whale and marine environment surveys for many years through various programs through Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara.

This year between 90 and 100 people from the Yalata and Oak Valley attended Whale of a Day this year, with participants including students, teachers, parents, community workers and members of Yalata’s land management team.

Clare Charlton and other Curtin University researchers, who were undertaking their annual whale count, also took part in the day.

Previously NRAW’s Yasmin Wolf organised the day alongside Great Australian Bight Marine Parks manager Dirk Holman.

This year Ms Wolf was on maternity leave so Mr Holman organised the day with Yalata Anangu School principal Bob Sim and Alessandro Madonna from Yalata Land Management.

There was a range of activities including whale watching from the board walk, whale dot paintings made by ladies from the Yalata community and a drone demonstration off the cliffs with the Curtin University researchers.

Fredrik Christiansen from Murdoch University was also on hand and demonstrated how to use a drone.

A whale in the Bight.

A whale in the Bight.

Using drones near whales is restricted so they can remain undisturbed, so this was a special opportunity for each child to observe the drone’s screen, seeing the whales with their babies in their natural habitat in real time.

The group were able to see five calf pairs swimming in the waters below, among them a young white calf that had bee spotted previously.

Inside the Head of Bight visitor centre Ms Charlton and her team held an interactive session to present information on whale anatomy, behaviour, breeding and migration patterns.

The day concluded with the Yalata Land Management Team cooking a barbecue and the students having a run through the sand dunes.

Thanks have gone to Mr Holman and Mr Sim for organising the day, as well as to those who made it possible.

This includes Ceduna Natural Resources Centre staff members Belinda Margan, Tamahina Cox and Tori Ronan as well as Libby Hunt from Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula’s Streaky Bay office.