Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Creating a Safe Zone for Right Whales

10.06.2008
There may be only 350 these right whales left in the Atlantic Ocean. Without measures to protect and grow their numbers, they could be extinct by 2020. A Dalhousie PhD candidate is studying the "area to be avoided", an attempt to preserve the right whale's habitat.

It’s called the “area to be avoided,”— 1,000 square nautical miles located in the Roseway Basin region of the Scotian Shelf, just south of Barrington, N.S. And since June 1, ships have been asked to make a detour around the area, a crucial habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

There may be only 350 these right whales left in the Atlantic Ocean. Without measures to protect and grow their numbers, they could be extinct by 2020.

“In the first four days (since implementation of new policy), we’ve seen evidence of vessels complying,” says Angelia Vanderlaan, a PhD candidate studying biological oceanography at Dalhousie University. “Since this is new and it is a voluntary measure, I’m hoping it will work.”

And she’s got her eye on just who is and who isn’t complying. Ships transmit information about their whereabouts, speed, direction, and length and type of ship every three seconds—“It’s like, ‘here I am!’ ‘Here I am!’” says Ms. Vanderlaan. This data is picked up specialized equipment installed on cell towers near Cape Sable Island. Back in her office at Dalhousie, Ms. Vanderlaan can track those ships and their movements on her computer.

On June 1st, for example, about 20 vessels traveled through the Roseway region, a thoroughfare for ships from Halifax to New York. Sixteen of those ships avoided the area, and another four could have, but didn’t and plowed right on through. On June 3 and June 4, tracking reveals some vessels clearly modified their routes to avoid.

“It’s early on, but some seem to be going around,” she says. “We think it will make a big difference; it certainly helped when the shipping lanes were shifted in the Bay of Fundy.”

The monitoring is possible because of collaboration between Bell-Aliant and the Dalhousie researchers led by oceanography professor Christopher Taggart.

“When Chris approached Aliant, there was no question, we wanted to be a part of it,” says Alyson Queen, public affairs manager for Aliant. “It’s an excellent example of how business and academia can combine forces for the betterment of the environment.”

Aliant has also installed the receivers on towers near Halifax and in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, with additional sites being considered near Caraquet, N.B. and Digby, N.S.

Hunted to the brink of extinction during the last century, the right whale continues to be under threat by mankind. (Whalers called the right whale – the “right” whale to kill because they were relatively easy to pursue and their thick layer of valuable blubber kept the dead whale conveniently afloat.) But now the greatest threat it faces is being struck and killed by a ship. The faster the ship is traveling, the more likely the whale will die.

So why don’t the whales get out of the way? Ms. Vanderlaan says while the whales likely hear ship traffic, they’re so used to the noise it doesn’t serve as a warning. At one time, for example, researchers experimented by broadcasting alerts to the whales, but instead of scaring them away, it brought them to the surface where there was a greater likelihood of a collision. A collision with a ship’s propellers can sheer off a whale’s tail, slice them apart, or cause huge contusions.

“It’s like living beside a train track,” she says. “After awhile, you stop hearing the trains go by.”

Ms. Vanderlaan says changes they’ve proposed have been supported and indeed embraced by Canadian companies, such as Irving Oil. But the same is not true in the United States. Efforts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to impose seasonal speed restrictions (to 10 knots an hours) in areas frequented by whales have been stonewalled by the White House, she says. The rule has been awaiting clearance at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs since February 2007.

There is also a proposal to create an area to be avoided in the Great South Channel, near Cape Cod.

“The World Shipping Council is against restrictions and people are fighting it tooth and nail,” she says. “But if a whale is hit at a slower speed, they’re more likely to survive the injury.”

Charles Crosby | newswise
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>