Southern Ocean Research Partnership

Remora approaching a blue whale; © Kylie Owen

The Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) is an integrated, collaborative consortium for non-lethal whale research, which aims to maximise conservation outcomes for Southern Ocean whales through an understanding of the post-exploitation status, health, dynamics and environmental linkages of their populations, and the threats they face. The partnership maintains an integrated and responsive relationship with the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its priorities. IWC-SORP was endorsed by the Scientific Committee of the IWC at its Annual Meeting in June 2009.

Scientists participating in IWC-SORP are developing and applying novel, powerful, non-lethal research methods including acoustic techniques, tagging devices, photography and satellite tracking methods, tissue sampling and sophisticated genetic techniques, as well as important ecological theory and analyses.

Current Partnership members include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and the United States.

IWC-SORP warmly welcomes new partners.

Conferences, symposia, meetings and reports

Southern right whale data request

We are searching for contributions of all readily available information on southern right whale offshore sightings south of 40°S over the period 1980–2020. Data requested would ideally include the following:

  • Date
  • Coordinates (Latitude/longitude)
  • Number of southern right whales observed
  • Evidence available (photo, video, acoustics, trained observer, …)
  • Behaviour (if known and confirmed)

A key part of IWC-SORP research Theme 6 is the identification of southern right whale foraging grounds. However, contemporary data on feeding ground location is sparse and consequently the identification of areas of importance to the species is difficult. Therefore, the project-leaders are pursuing a comprehensive desktop study to collate all available (published and unpublished, dedicated or opportunistic) data regarding southern right whale offshore sightings South of 40°S. Such information will be essential to further develop foraging ground habitat models and select appropriate environmental variables, to evaluate effects of climatic changes on the species’ foraging success and ultimately reproductive success.

IP rights of all contributed data will remain with the data owner.

During this initial phase the metadata will only be tabulated. Further data analyses and processing will not occur without the written consent of the respective data owners. The final table of collated data will be made publicly available on the IWC website, unless specifically requested otherwise by the data owner. If required, data sharing agreements can be put in place on a case-by-case basis.

To contribute data or for more information, please contact Els Vermeulen and Emma Carroll.

Data, protocol and resource sharing

The IWC-SORP ethos is one of open collaboration, communication and data sharing, so much of our work is publicly available. Visit the protocols, data sharing and resources page to download documents, forms, posters and flyers.

Media inquiries

All media inquiries should be directed to the Australian Antarctic Division media team on +61 3 6232 3253 or media@aad.gov.au.

General inquiries

General inquiries should be directed to sorp@aad.gov.au.

This page was last modified on June 29, 2021.