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The Southern Ocean Research Partnership (SORP)

The Southern Ocean Research Partnership (SORP) is an integrated, collaborative consortium for cetacean research, which aims to maximise conservation-orientated outcomes for Southern Ocean cetaceans 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. SORP was endorsed by the Scientific Committee of the IWC at its Annual Meeting in June 2009.

SORP currently focuses on the large whale species managed by the IWC: Antarctic blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale and Antarctic minke whale. Killer whales are also considered as an important component of the Southern Ocean ecosystem. The regional focus of SORP is the Southern Ocean but relevant research efforts also include migratory corridors and breeding grounds.

There are currently five on-going SORP research projects:

  1. The Antarctic Blue Whale Project (ABWP): towards an improved circumpolar abundance estimate;
  2. Distribution, relative abundance, migration patterns and foraging ecology of three ecotypes of killer whales in the Southern Ocean;
  3. Foraging ecology and predator­-prey interactions between baleen whales and krill: a multi­-scale comparative study across Antarctic regions;
  4. Acoustic trends in abundance, distribution, and seasonal presence of Antarctic blue whales and fin whales in the Southern Ocean;
  5. What is the distribution and extent of mixing of Southern Hemisphere humpback whale populations around Antarctica?

A 6th project, The Living Whales Symposium and Workshops, was completed in March 2012. Click here for more information.

Scientists participating in SORP are developing and applying novel, powerful, conservation-oriented 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.

The Partnership currently includes ten countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and the United States of America. SORP warmly welcomes new partners to formally commit to participation in this exciting initiative.

Detailed information is available from: