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After nearly being hunted to extinction, southern right whales are making a comeback. But in critical areas their recovery is slower than it should be and serious new threats are emerging. We urgently need to know more - drones could unlock the answers...

© Fredrik Christiansen / Murdoch University

Gentle giants at risk

Australia's southern ocean is the nursery for southern right whales and their calves. Right now they need our help - they're endangered and facing new threats

Southern right whales were almost wiped out by hunters in the 20th Century - their population dropped from 55,000 to just 300 in 1920’s. They're recovering, but in critical areas, they aren’t bouncing back quickly enough. They are still endangered in Australia – only 3,500 are known – and they face a whole new set of threats. Climate change threatens their food supply in Antartica, increased ship traffic and fishing nets are dangerous obstacles on their journey, and proposed oil and gas developments pose new danger to their home.

Compared to humpback and blue whales, there is still so much that is unknown about southern right whales. To ensure their survival and to help them overcome the new threats, researchers urgently need to conduct a health check on these gentle giants. Donate to fund an urgent health check.

They're slow and friendly, which made them an easy target for hunters.

Drone doctors to the rescue

New drone technology has unlocked opportunities for us to help whales

Drones offer an exciting new way to check the health of whales, and gather data about their migration, feeding and breeding patterns. This exciting new technology can gather more high quality data in a way that doesn’t harm the animals and lowers risks for humans. Chip in to buy the drones needed.

© Chris Farrell Nature Photography / WWF-Aus

  • The southern right whale
  • has one of the largest heads of all whale species,
  • measuring up to one-third its body length.

Meet the researcher

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson is renowned as one of Australia's leading whale researchers - and a proud member of the WWF team.

"Over the past 18 years, I’ve been lucky enough to research whales in incredible and remote places around the world. Working with partners and researchers in the field, we gather the information and stories, and take them to the decision makers. This means I put on a suit and tie a few times a year and go to Canberra to talk with the Minister for Environment about whales. And I go to international policy meetings to promote solutions like marine sanctuaries in the Southern Ocean – to protect critical whale habitats."

Donate and help Chris and his team keep protecting whales.

I’ve been a metre from the eye of a southern right whale. Once you have an encounter like that, it’s almost your duty to do something for them, which is one of the reasons I’m doing this job.

YOUR DONATION TODAY WILL BE USED TO:

Buy three additional drones needed to conduct urgent health checks
Give Chris and the teams and partners the resources they need to study – and speak up – for whales
Fund research that’s essential for convincing law-makers to protect whales and oceans