Project Jonah Newsletter Winter 2013

In this edition:

Whale Rescue Training: 2013-2014 Season

Introducing our new General Manager

Can You Help Us?

Research and Publications

Cover 9 Cropped Final(copy)

Whale Rescue Training: 2013-2014 Season

Want to become a certified cetacean saver? Our new season of marine mammal medic training dates have just been released. Book a place now to avoid disappointment: Last season we trained 327 people across New Zealand. Register below and don’t forget to invite your friends and family – in fact anyone you know aged 15 years or over.

We’ll teach you about whales and dolphins, their history, behaviours and reasons why they strand, what happens at a stranding, and most importantly, what to do if you find a stranded whale on the beach. You’ll get to practice first aid on our life-size model dolphin Moko and also get to re-float the stranded inflatable pilot whale PJ, using our specialised rescue pontoons. It’s a full on day that’s lots of fun with a serious message.
We will be running our public training events at the following and locations:

12 October – Auckland
13 October – Auckland
8 November – Whangarei
16 November – Wellington
17 November – Wellington
7 December – Christchurch
14 December – Dunedin
15 December – Invercargill (provisional)

22 February – Golden Bay (provisional)
23 February – Nelson/Picton (provisional)
1 March – Whitianga
8 March – Auckland
9 March – Auckland
22 March - Tauranga

To make a booking or to find out more, please click here.

The provisional dates are subject to demand. We will take bookings but will let you know nearer the time if we are going ahead.

Introducing…Our New General Manager

Daren Grover has been with Project Jonah since May 2012 and started as General Manager in January of this year.

After cutting his teeth in business management in the UK, Daren came to New Zealand in 2006 and finds his background holds him in good stead at Project Jonah: “I have experience in managing, motivating and caring for people- ideal skills when working with volunteers and at a stranding.”

A passion for what he is doing doesn’t hurt either. “I am fascinated by all things environmental, especially marine mammals which I find inspiring.”

When not saving whales, Daren enjoys sailing, reading, learning about New Zealand and living sustainably.

Daren is full of new ideas and keen for Project Jonah to grow. This is evident by his ‘lead-from-the-front ‘ style. Last year he ran the Kaikoura Whale Run to raise vital funds and this year will run the Auckland Half-Marathon. “I believe everyone can make a difference and Project Jonah is a real hands-on way to do that, helping these animals in their moment of need. I feel fortunate to be involved with an organisation that gives a voice to those without one.”

Can You Help Us?

It’s dawn on the beach. The rain blows in your face from the offshore wind. A light in the distance draws you to the meeting point. There are rangers from DoC and many people in orange vests. Project Jonah vests. Volunteers trained in whale rescue, giving their time and energy to help save whales stranded on the beach. If there are enough of us with the right equipment, we can give these whales the best chance of surviving. Equipment such as buckets, lifting mats, pontoons and the dive tanks to inflate them – each one a vital tool in the rescue effort.

With your help, we can train more volunteers and deliver more equipment and support for DoC and ensure these efforts are not in vain. We are a not-for-profit charity that relies solely on donations from members of the public and support from businesses. 

Our single biggest donor recently stepped away from the organisation and without your support our lifesaving response is in jeopardy.

Here are some of the costs we face in a typical stranding response:
$6 - Refilling a dive tank (one tank used per pontoon re-floating)
$15 - High-viz vest for a volunteer to wear at a stranding
$20 – Durable and re-usable bucket
$50 – Bi-annual certification of a dive tank
$120 – Sponsor a place on our whale rescue course ($10 per month)
$200 – Spotter plane during a stranding ($17 per month)
$240 – A flag to warn beachgoers of a stranding ($20 per month)
$300 – Texts to mobilise volunteers before and during a stranding ($25 per month)
By providing financial assistance either as a one off gift or as a regular monthly donation, you are assisting our front line operations. Work which includes mobilising our volunteers, delivering equipment where it is needed and maintaining this specialised equipment.

Please help us today by clicking here to donate

Research & Publications    

In the last few months there have been two interesting research papers published which are relevant to our New Zealand whales. Also, an exciting new book by the perennial Dr. Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson of Otago University, highlighting the most recent research of our endemic hector’s dolphins.  

Dolphins Down Under – Understanding the New Zealand Dolphin
This newly published book brings us up to date with the current research on our native hector’s dolphins.
New Zealand dolphins, also known as hector’s dolphins, are fascinating and beautiful animals. Found only in New Zealand waters, their numbers are now under constant threat – especially from human fishing activities.
This book introduces the dolphin to readers of all ages. The authors have devoted the last 30 years – more than a dolphin lifespan – to intensive study of the dolphin’s distribution, behaviour, biology, reproduction and communication, using photography as their principal research tool. They have identified over 100 individuals and recorded their life events. Several of these dolphins feature inside.

Early on in their research the authors realised that dolphin numbers are not sustainable under current fishing practices. They describe these and other conservation problems as what is needed to ensure the dolphins’ survival.
To purchase a copy of this book for $30 including p&p to anywhere in New Zealand, Email us at: This will only be available through Project Jonah until 30 June 2013

Genetic Evidence of Multiple Matrilines and Spatial Disruption of Kinship Bonds in Mass Strandings of Long-finned Pilot Whales
While the title is quite a mouthful, research recently published confirms our longstanding rescue strategy – not to assume a calf has stranded next to its mother. While it can be distressing to witness, often a mewing calf is able to continue swimming in water that is too shallow for adult whales. We no longer assume that the calf has stranded next to its mother which this research confirms.
The full study by Auckland University and published in the Journal of Heredity, can be found in full here:

Maternally-directed Fidelity Shapes the Recovery and Connectivity of Southern Right Whales.

In April, the Zoological Society of Auckland hosted a seminar detailing the recent findings from AUT researcher Dr. Emma Carroll. The paper is currently available to members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and will hopefully be made available to the public later this year. Below is a summary of Dr. Carroll’s findings.
Southern right whales were hunted to near extinction, with an estimated 150,000 killed by intensive 19th century and illegal 20th century whaling. The worldwide population declined to less than 400 whales around 1920, and today the species shows a spatially variable recovery. This pattern was replayed around New Zealand (NZ), where the species formerly inhabited wintering grounds in both the NZ sub-Antarctic and around the North and South Islands (mainland of NZ). However, after whaling, no whale was seen around mainland NZ for nearly 40 years but a remnant population persisted in the NZ sub-Antarctic. We have investigated the current status and population structure of southern right whales around Australia and NZ using genetic monitoring techniques. The NZ population appears distinct from the Australian populations based on the analysis of genetic markers and paternity analysis. We also estimate the NZ population is increasing in size and rediscovering former wintering grounds around mainland NZ. The pattern of recovery appears to be strongly linked to maternally-reinforced migratory patterns, a form of cultural learning passed from mother to calf.
A bit about Emma: Dr Emma Carroll is a molecular ecologist who uses genetic markers to study natural populations. She is a world-recognised expert on southern right whales, which were the focus of her PhD dissertation. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Auckland and her work involves taking an ecosystem approach to investigating whale diet.

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