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International honour for Byron whale researchers

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Byron Bay-based marine scientists Trish and Wally Franklin have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to whale and dolphin conservation by being awarded a prestigious IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Lifetime Dedication Award.

The husband-and-wife team accepted the award yesterday from IFAW president Mr Fred O’Regan and IFAW Oceania director Isabel McCrea at a ceremony in Brisbane.

‘Trish and Wally Franklin’s research and community-awareness work has made an enormous contribution to conservation and IFAW would like to congratulate the Franklins on 30 years of hard work to protect humpback whales,’ Ms McCrea said.

Trish and Wally Franklin’s interest in whales began in 1976 and today they are among Australia’s most highly respected cetacean scientists. Since 1988 via the Oceania Project (a not-for-profit research and information organisation) the Franklins have conducted numerous research expeditions in order to better inform the conservation and protection of humpback whales, including a long-term photo-ID study of Hervey Bay humpback whales.

‘Humpback whale tails are as unique as our fingerprints, which makes it possible to identify individual whales, and today the Franklins’ incredible photo-ID catalogue numbers over 3000 whales.

‘Having community support for whale conservation is essential in our fight to protect these huge yet vulnerable animals. Thanks to the Franklins’ incredible work communities can play a vital role in whale protection by adopting and naming individual whales through the Humpback Icon Project, set up by the Oceania Project and IFAW,’ Ms McCrea said.

Trish and Wally Franklin will receive one of seven IFAW Action Awards, which recognises people who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare.

The winners have been chosen from Australiawide nominations from friends, family and work colleagues of people who do exceptional work to benefit wild or domestic animals.

‘We hope that by highlighting some of these exceptional people more Australians will acknowledge and respect the important part that animals play in our shared world,’ Ms McCrea said.


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