Boaters Enlisted to Help Track Whales

Posted by Eric Haun
Friday, January 31, 2014
(Credit: Center for Coastal Studies (CCS))

Yachters and sailors are invited to help scientists track the movements of endangered humpback whales between NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its sister sanctuaries across the Caribbean as part of Carib Tails, a new international citizen science effort.

Carib Tails is a collaboration between the sanctuary and partners at Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic, Agoa Marine Mammal Sanctuary/French Antilles, Bermuda Marine Mammal Sanctuary, the marine mammal sanctuaries of the Windward and Leeward Dutch Antilles, and the United Nations Caribbean Environment Program’s Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Program (UNEP/SPAW).

By photographing the tails of humpbacks they encounter at sea, boaters can support on-going research to collect migration data on the shared population of approximately 1,000 humpbacks. Photographs will be matched to entries in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and images of previously unknown and unphotographed whales will be added to the collection.

The project stresses safe boating and viewing practices around these endangered animals, which includes not approaching within 100 yards of the whales, and federal regulations apply. A dedicated website provides tips on how to photograph flukes for research purposes, photo submission forms and other information about humpback whales.

Researchers identify individual humpback whales by the black and white patterns on the underside of their flukes, or tails. Scars and natural pigmentation, ranging from all white to all black, along with the scalloped shaped edge of the tail, give each whale a distinct identification. Photographs of humpback flukes have allowed researchers to monitor the movements, health and behavior of individual animals since this research began in the 1970s.

At Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, “Salt,” the sanctuary’s most well known whale and a mother of 12, was the first East Coast humpback to be named and the first of the sanctuary’s whales to be identified off the Dominican Republic.

“The story of Salt is one example of the power of collaborative science,” said Craig MacDonald, Stellwagen sanctuary superintendent. “Carib Tails is an exciting opportunity for citizen scientists to help expand and enrich our understanding of how this charismatic species connects us to our Caribbean counterparts.”

“Whales follow long-distance courses that take them to destinations similarly favored by yachters,” said Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, UNEP/SPAW program director. “For the ocean lovers among us, what better way to respect the marine environment and add value to your travels than by becoming a citizen scientist?”

Stellwagen Bank sanctuary’s Sister Sanctuary Program began in 2007 to increase public awareness and help improve recovery of the shared population of humpback whales through joint research, monitoring, education and other programs.

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 842 square miles of ocean, stretching between Cape Ann and Cape Cod offshore of Massachusetts. Renowned for its biological diversity and remarkable productivity, the sanctuary is famous as a whale watching destination and supports a rich assortment of marine life, including marine mammals, seabirds, fishes and marine invertebrates. The sanctuary’s position astride the historic shipping routes and fishing grounds for Massachusetts’ oldest ports also makes it a repository for shipwrecks representing several hundred years of maritime transportation.
 

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

What’s All the Noise at IMO?

Shipping may think they hear the sound of new regulations as they are slammed onto their desks.  What is all the noise concerning noise at IMO?  This may very well be the question from ship owners,

Will Congress Pass Any Maritime Legislation in 2014?

Following its usual summer break over August 2014, Congress came back from its five-week summer recess and spent a whopping eight days or so back in session before recessing once again,

ICS Addresses OECD Shipbuilding Working Party

The OECD should be cautious about becoming involved in the question of what constitutes an ‘eco-ship’, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said to governments

News

US House to Hold Hearing on Oil Export Ban

A House of Representatives panel will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 to explore whether a decades-old law that prohibits the export of crude oil makes sense in an era of domestic energy abundance.

Bollinger Delivers 11th FRC to the US Coast Guard

Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. has delivered the William Trump, the 11th Fast Response Cutter (FRC) to the United States Coast Guard.   The announcement was made by Bollinger Chief Operating Officer,

Australian Defence Minister Says Would Not Trust Submarine Firm to Build Canoe

Australia's defence minister has said he would not trust state-owned Australian Submarine Corp (ASC) "to build a canoe", fuelling expectations that most work in

Marine Science

Overwhelming Support for ‘Hit the HMT Target!’

Today, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded a “Dear Colleague” letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Appropriations that was signed by 22 senators,

Thickness of Antarctic Sea Ice Surpass Expectations

Antarctica's ice paradox has yet another puzzling layer. Not only is the amount of sea ice increasing each year, but an underwater robot now shows the ice is

ST Engineering Rejigs Top Deck

Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) today announced the appointment of senior management personnel to new key management positions in the

Government Update

US House to Hold Hearing on Oil Export Ban

A House of Representatives panel will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 to explore whether a decades-old law that prohibits the export of crude oil makes sense in an era of domestic energy abundance.

Australian Defence Minister Says Would Not Trust Submarine Firm to Build Canoe

Australia's defence minister has said he would not trust state-owned Australian Submarine Corp (ASC) "to build a canoe", fuelling expectations that most work in

Shipbuilding Regulations: Cents and Sensibility

Addressing the Jones Act is just one aspect of an increasingly complicated boatbuilding environment. Stovepiped, poorly conceived regulations is another. The sting of the recession is fading,

Ocean Observation

Thickness of Antarctic Sea Ice Surpass Expectations

Antarctica's ice paradox has yet another puzzling layer. Not only is the amount of sea ice increasing each year, but an underwater robot now shows the ice is

Everett College to Launch New Research Boat

Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) will launch its new research vesel on November 22 with a celebration at 11 a.m. at the Port of Everett.

IMO Steps Up Safety in Polar Waters

United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted global, binding regulations to enhance safety of navigation in polar waters. After several years’ intense negotiations,

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3016 sec (3 req/sec)