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Analysis finds conflicts between whales, shipping lanes

Modified: Saturday, Jul 26th, 2014


A blue whale killed by a ship collision is examined by Oregon State University researchers aboard their 85-foot vessel, the Pacific Storm. (Photo by Flip Nicklin, Minden Pictures)


A comprehensive, 15-year analysis of the movements of satellite-tagged blue whales off the West Coast of the United States found that their favored feeding areas are bisected by heavily used shipping lanes, increasing the threat of injury and mortality.

The researchers note that moving the shipping lanes off Los Angeles and San Francisco to slightly different areas at least, during summer and fall when blue whales are most abundant could significantly decrease the probability of ships striking the whales. A similar relocation of shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy off eastern Canada lowered the likelihood of vessels striking endangered right whales an estimated 80 percent.

Results of the study which was supported by the Office of Naval Research, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, private gifts to the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute and others is being published in the journal PLOS ONE.



For the complete article see the 07-25-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-25-2014 paper.


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