A recent study found that humpback whales, who visit the Gulf of Maine every year to feed, are being struck by boats and other watercraft at much higher rates than previously suspected. The paper, recently released in the journal Marine Mammal Science, has suggested that up to fifteen percent of all the whales in the Gulf of Maine are the victims of boat collisions at some point in the season.
Whale And Boat Collisions Are Quite Common?
Studies carried out in the past have linked the problem to the slow swimming speed of larger animals. They also pointed out their tendency to gather in groups and the predilection for traveling in the same space as popular shipping lanes. They often do this to take advantage of the same currents as the ships. While at the surface, they are often engaged in feeding or breeding. This distracts them from noticing oncoming ships.
Even though the humpback and similar whales are on the endangered species list, there are no specific guidelines for their protection from marine traffic, except for those boats with the particular mission of whale watching. Researchers hope this study will help lead to new regulations.
“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.”