Annual Report of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) 2020/21
ELANOR M. BELL (Compiler)
The Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) was established in 2009 with the aim of developing a multi-lateral, non-lethal scientific research programme that would improve the coordinated and cooperative delivery of science to the IWC. There are 13 member countries in the Partnership: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, and the United States. This paper reports on the continued progress of IWC-SORP and its seven Commission endorsed research themes1 since the Scientific Committee meeting in 2020. This progress includes the production of at least 41 peer-reviewed scientific papers in 2020/21, bringing the total number of peer-reviewed publications related to IWC-SORP produced since the start of the initiative to ca. 206. Moreover, 163 IWC-SORP related papers have been submitted to the Scientific Committee, 18 of them this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to most of the IWC-SORP projects through the closure of laboratories, cancellation of voyages and disruption of fieldwork. Nevertheless, limited fieldwork was undertaken in the western Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic Marion Island, and successful expeditions undertaken to the Auckland Islands Maungahuka in New Zealand sub-Antarctic, to the Falkland Islands /Islas Malvinas, and to the Southern Ocean (62°S–68°S and 55°E–80°E). Southern right whale aerial surveys were conducted in South Africa and Australia. Images for photo-identification have been collected, satellite tags have been deployed on southern right and fin whales. Biopsy samples have been collected from southern right and humpback whales; and hundreds of hours of cetacean acoustic recordings have been made and analysed. IWC-SORP funded projects have had extensions to their timelines approved to account for COVID-19 pandemic related disruptions.