A PhD student at The University of Western Australia who is researching marine predators of the offshore Perth Canyon has won an award from the Australian Academy of Science.
Phil Bouchet, who won the Margaret Middleton Fund for Endangered Australian Native Vertebrate Animals, said some predators found only in this part of the world were increasingly under threat and were vital for healthy marine ecosystems.
They included some whales, dolphins, sharks and seabirds.
"This award is very important," Mr Bouchet, of UWA's Oceans Institute, said.
"It acknowledges the growing attention on Australia's oceans and the conservation of their wildlife and resources. Australia is home to some of the greatest biodiversity hotspots and most pristine environments on the planet."
Mr Bouchet is using innovative video technology to track and study predators in the 1.5 km deep Perth Canyon, which lies about 14 km west of Rottnest Island.
"This will not only assist the long-term management of the Perth Canyon Commonwealth marine reserve but will also give us a monitoring tool to guarantee that appropriate and adequate protection is in place for threatened species.
"My PhD investigates the spatial dynamics and movements of vertebrate predators, many of which are key to maintaining the health of marine ecosystems, and are under growing pressure from human developments.
"As a Frenchman, the Indian Ocean pygmy blue whale is one of my favourite Australian vertebrates. Nobody really knows where they come from or where they go to, yet Geographe Bay in Western Australia is one of the only few places in the world where they can be spotted metres from the shore."
Philippe Bouchet (UWA Centre for Marine Futures, Oceans Institute) (+61 8) 6488 8118
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783