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International shipping supports science to protect orcas

By July 21, 2017 No Comments

orca (c) Dave Ellifrit_Centre for Whale ResearchShips passing through a sensitive area off British Columbia’s coast, have agreed to slow down in an effort to protect the critically endangered southern resident killer whale population. One of the major threats to their survival is the amount of noise pollution from marine activity, which makes it difficult for the orcas to communicate and hunt for food. Haro Strait is a critical feeding ground for the whales which is off the east coast of Vancouver Island to San Juan Island. The vessels will reduce their speed to 11 knots to allow scientists to study whether that measure, effectively reduces the amount of underwater noise as a typical deep sea container ship would normally travel at 18 knots.

900 vessel trips will be tracked and recorded by hydrophones for the noise they emit between August and October. 54 marine shipping companies have signed up to take part in the voluntary study along with many ferries, recreational and whale watching vessels also agreeing to slow down. The data collected during the research will also be made available to the public in 2018.

Photo Credit: Dave Ellifrit, Centre for Whale Research
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