August 23, 2011 by dyertrust

Our biologist,Katja Vinding Petersen, is busy with preparations for her whale and dolphin study in the Gansbaai area. Katja is carrying out her PhD through the University of Pretoria with the help of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

Katja is from Denmark and a recent article by journalist Lene Johansen in the Politken, the Danish national newspaper highlights her history and work.Click hereandhereto read the article in Danish.

To sum up for our English followers:

Katja arrived in South Africa, Cape Town, the first time with the Danish expedition "Galathea 3" in 2006. She had 3 weeks holiday and contacted the owner of the whale watching company Dyer Island Cruises (and founder of Trust,Wilfred Chivell). Once she had finished her biology degree (combining sound and marine mammals) in Denmark in 2007, she returned to Gansbaai.

During her study she will investigate the distribution and behavior of the whales and dolphins, since it is important to have a baseline and it is highly important to know the animals main areas to be able to protect them. Especially the southern right whales mother and calves and the near threatened humpback dolphins. Katja will be collecting and analyzing sound recordings from loggers on the seafloor as well as monitoring the whales from the shore, using a "theodolite". It is important to combine the data from the landbased observations and the sound recordings from the sea, since the whales might be silent and thereby not get registered and on the other hand it is not possible to track using the theodolite during the night and in rough weather.

She will also be looking into the archive data from the whale watching boat. From the pictures she will be able to tell how often they have seen the individual whales and dolphins and even combine it with other catalogues of whales in SA -and from that tell how much of the coastline the individual whales use. Her study has yet another dimension, in relation to a proposed Nuclear Power Station. Katja hopes that her results will be useful in this process.

Keep an eye out for more on Katjas work. The Trust relies on donations to support research and conservation work. Should you wish to support these studies,please click here.

For more about the proposed Nuclear Power Station at Bantamsklip,click here.