Murdoch University dolphin heroes win international award

November 22, 2012

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Murdoch University’s Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) has been recognised for its work to protect dolphins, whales and dugongs with a prestigious International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Action Award for Research.

Research Fellow Simon Allen accepted the award on behalf of MUCRU at a ceremony in Sydney on November 21. He said MUCRU research was committed to supporting conservation and management of marine mammals and was always looking to improve understanding and raise awareness among policy makers and the public.

“The MUCRU team, including numerous researchers and post-graduate students, have demonstrated how top notch science can be combined with a passion for marine conservation in a way that really benefits society,” Mr Allen said.

Oceania Director Isabel McCrea presented the award and said MUCRU were leading the way in Australia with innovative approaches to conservation.

“The accomplished scientists at MUCRU have a history of conducting research vital to the protection of dolphins, whales and dugongs in Western Australia,” Ms McCrea said.

“They strive to use innovative and cutting edge techniques to help build our knowledge of how various species use the marine environment and identify areas of potentially damaging overlap with industry.”

Research leader Associate Professor Lars Bejder said human encroachment on important habitats made MUCRU pivotal in assisting an often overwhelmed environmental assessment process.

"In trying to keep pace with the rate of development, the approval process does not allow sufficient time to document baseline information on the ecosystems of Western Australia. We hope our scientific research, in combination with our recent social media project, can help fill some of the vast knowledge gaps on marine mammals," he said.

Research Fellow Dr Amanda Hodgson added that the MUCRU crew were celebrating the recognition of their efforts.

“We’ve been working hard at raising the bar in terms of conducting research on WA’s marine mammals and determining how human activities affect them, including commercial fisheries, tourism and coastal development through oil, gas and mining projects,” she said.

Founded in 1969 with a mission to rescue and protect animals, animal populations and habitats around the world, IFAW presented ten Action Awards at the ceremony, including one to conservationist Bob Irwin, father of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.

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