The South Australian Museum’s marine mammal research, collections and databases are globally renowned.
The research group, led by Dr Catherine Kemper, undertakes post-mortems and detailed sample collections on carcasses collected by Museum staff, the Department of Environment and Water, and volunteers. The information collected contributes to long-term studies of many aspects of marine mammal biology.
Examples of current research on marine mammals include:
taxonomy and distribution of southern Australian dolphins in the genera Tursiops and Delphinus
biology of the Pygmy Right Whale, Caperea marginata
diet and life history of dolphins, whales and seals, including age estimation using teeth
diseases and parasites
morphology and anatomy
population genetics of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus).
The Dolphin Trauma Group is a multidisciplinary team of specialists who investigate dolphin mortalities, disease and biology in South Australia. Overseen by Dr Catherine Kemper, Senior Research Scientist, Mammals, the specific aims of the group are to:
determine as quickly as possible the cause and manner of dolphin deaths;
ensure that injuries are adequately documented and evidence collected to facilitate prosecutions if potential perpetrators are found
assist in the collection of information on dolphin morbidity and mortality
carry out scientific research that assists in conserving local dolphin populations.
Other members of the Group include Ikuko Tomo (Honorary Research Associate), Michael Bossley (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) and Department of Environment and Water staff of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
The Museum’s marine mammal ageing facility was established in 2007 to facilitate the study of age estimation of whales, dolphins and seals. At present, it is focussing on methods involving teeth of marine mammals, particularly those of dolphins.
The Mammals group also has an active program of research on Australian terrestrial mammal species and subfossil mammals.
Examples of current research projects include:
conservation of bat species in Australia
seasonal changes in the diet of barn owls from the arid zone as determined by studying pellets.