ABSTRACT

Two subspecies of blue whale occur in Australian waters, (1) the pygmy blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) and (2) the Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia). Understanding blue whale presence in Australian waters is critical to ensuring Australia’s protection of these marine mammals as both subspecies were heavily exploited during historical whaling. This short note documents pygmy blue whale sightings in New South Wales waters over the last 18 years. Observations were opportunistically made via citizen science and verified by scientists. Sightings in this note contribute to our limited knowledge of pygmy blue whale distribution along the east coast of Australia and may help understand the migratory movements of New Zealand pygmy blue whales off Australia and in the Tasman Sea. Overall, information presented in this note contributes to Australia’s national and international conservation efforts to protecting blue whales as a migratory and threatened species.

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