Bonney Blue was built in 2006 by Seaquest Boats in Perth, Western Australia, and outfitted by Geelong Boating Centre. Bonney Blue is a plate-aluminium Razerline Olympian™ offshore fishing-type vessel powered by fuel-efficient, twin Yamaha F80 four-stroke outboards. She has extended-range fuel tanks, a Furuno GP-7000F plotter-sounder for navigation and prey finding, and carries comprehensive distress equipment, a satellite phone and VHF radio for communication.
She is fitted with safety equipment to Class 2C survey standards and complies with the Level Flotation standard under the National System for Commercial Vessels, meaning she will float level if swamped. She has a Certificate of Operation issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, to operate within 15 nautical miles (28km) of the coast, and has the Unique Vessel Identifier 414779.
Bonney Blue has been used for a range of research methods including photo-identification, behavioural studies, tagging and biopsy sampling, net sampling of prey species, acoustic monitoring and recording of biodiversity. In the past she was also used for krill hydroacoustic surveys and deployment of oceanographic instruments. To meet our research requirements, she has extra-high bow rails for security during tagging or photo-identification.
Funding support from Santos Ltd and other donors enabled Blue Whale Study to acquire Bonney Blue in early 2007. Her rugged construction, excellent sea-handling qualities, weatherproof walk-around wheelhouse and manoeuvrability around whales have suited our research needs to a tee.