Whale and boat collisions are more common that previously thought: researchers say

Whale and boat collisions are more common that previously thought: researchers say

A new study by a group of marine biologists has indicated that incidents of collisions between boats and whales off of the coast of New England are more common than previously estimated.

The researchers focused on the population of humpback whales in the southern Gulf of Maine, off Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire; and found that nearly 15 per cent of the marine creatures which come to area to feed every spring had injuries or scars consistent with vessel strikes.

Lead study author Alex Hill, a researcher with Plymouth, Massachusetts-based conservation group Whale & Dolphin Conservation, pointed out that vessel strikes pose risk to both the marine creatures and boaters.

Speaking on the topic, Hill said, “Vessel strikes are a significant risk to both whales and to boaters. Long term studies can help us figure out if our outreach programs to boaters are effective, what kind of management actions are needed and help to assess the health of the population.”

Off the coast of Alaska, 25 of 108 reported whale-boat collisions occurred from 1978 to 2011 resulted in the creature’s death. For the new study, the researchers reviewed more than 200,000 images of 624 individual whales over a period of nine years.

A different study published in 2014 suggested that modifications to shipping lanes could significantly reduce the likelihood of whales’ collisions with vessels.


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